Airway management in an emergency
Bag-mask ventilation is the most important skill to possess when a patient’s respiratory function becomes compromised. Supraglottic airway devices (laryngeal mask airway and tube) can be used to maintain a patent airway without needing to intubate the trachea. Supraglottic devices do not offer protection against aspiration and are therefore contraindicated in patients at risk of aspiration. According to current guidelines, tracheal intubation should only be attempted by those who are competent in this skill and have on-going experience with the technique. Sedating medication and muscle relaxants to assist intubation can only be used by doctors who have received training in anaesthesiology. If airway patency cannot be maintained with these methods, emergency tracheotomy, i.e. cricothyrotomy, should be considered.