Ultrasound: A promising tool for contemporary airway management.World J Clin Cases. 2015 Nov 16; 3(11):926-9.WJ
Airway evaluation and its management remains an ever emerging clinical science. Present airway management tools are static and do not provide dynamic airway management option. Visualized procedures like ultrasound (US) provide point of care real time dynamic views of the airway in perioperative, emergency and critical care settings. US can provide dynamic anatomical assessment which is not possible by clinical examination alone. US aids in detecting gastric contents and the nature of gastric contents (clear fluid, thick turbid or solid) as well. US can help in predicting endotracheal tube size by measuring subglottic diameter and diameter of left main stem bronchus. US was found to be a sensitive in detecting rotational malposition of LMA in children. Also, US is the fastest and highly sensitive tool to rule out a suspected intraoperative pneumothorax. In intensive care units, US helps torule out causes of inadequate ventilation, determine the tracheal width and distance from the skin to predict tracheotomy tube size and shape and assist with percutaneous dilatational tracheostomy. US can help in confirming the correct tracheal tube placement by dynamic visualisation of the endotracheal tube insertion, widening of vocal cords (children), and bilateral lung-sliding and diaphragmatic movement. Thus, ultrasonography has brought a paradigm shift in the practise of airway management. With increasing awareness, portability, accessibility and further sophistication in technology, it is likely to find a place in routine airway management. We are not far from the time when all of us will be carrying a pocket US machine like stethoscopes to corroborate our clinical findings at point of care.