The Difficult Airway and Aerosol-Generating Procedures in COVID-19: Timeless Principles for Uncertain Times.Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2020 11; 163(5):934-937.OH
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on otolaryngology practice is nowhere more evident than in acute airway management. Considerations of preventing SARS-CoV-2 transmission, conserving personal protective equipment, and prioritizing care delivery based on acuity have dictated clinical decision making in the acute phase of the pandemic. With transition to a more chronic state of pandemic, heightened vigilance is necessary to recognize how deferral of care in patients with tenuous airways and COVID-19 infection may lead to acute airway compromise. Furthermore, it is critical to respect the continuing importance of flexible laryngoscopy in diagnosis. Safely managing airways during the pandemic requires thoughtful multidisciplinary planning. Teams should consider trade-offs among aerosol-generating procedures involving direct laryngoscopy, supraglottic airway use, fiberoptic intubation, and tracheostomy. We share clinical cases that illustrate enduring principles of acute airway management. As algorithms evolve, time-honored approaches for diagnosis and management of acute airway pathology remain essential in ensuring patient safety.