Airway Management and Endotracheal Intubation

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General Principles

Airway Management Before Intubation

  • Head and jaw positioning: First, the oropharynx should be inspected, and all foreign bodies should be removed. If the patient is unresponsive, the head tilt–chin lift maneuver should be performed (see Airway Emergencies in Chapter 26, Medical Emergencies). If neck immobilization is required, jaw thrust should be performed.
  • Oral and nasopharyngeal airways: Airway adjunct devices can be used to maintain a patent airway. Initially inserted with the concave curve of the airway facing toward the roof of the mouth. The oral airway then is turned 180 degrees as it is inserted so that the concave curve of the airway follows the natural curve of the tongue. Careful monitoring of airway patency is required, as malpositioning can push the tongue posteriorly and result in oropharyngeal obstruction. Nasopharyngeal airways are made of soft plastic and passed easily down one of the nasal passages to the posterior pharynx after topical nasal lubrication and anesthesia with viscous lidocaine jelly.
  • Bag-valve-mask ventilation: Ineffective respiratory efforts can be augmented with simple bag-valve-mask ventilation. Proper fitting and positioning of the mask using the “EC” hand position—thumb and index finger forming a “C” around the mask, and the remaining fingers forming an “E” to support the jaw—ensure a tight seal around the mouth and nose. Used in conjunction with proper positioning and airway adjuncts, e.g., oral airway. If possible, two hands should be used to optimize seal while a second clinician ventilates the patient. Bag-valve-mask ventilation is a critical skill in airway management and is frequently incorrectly performed.
  • Laryngeal mask airway (LMA): The LMA is a supraglottic airway device shaped like an endotracheal tube connected to an elliptical mask. It is designed to be inserted over the tongue and seated in the hypopharynx, covering the supraglottic structures and relatively isolating the trachea. It is a temporary airway and should not be used for prolonged ventilatory support. LMAs can be lifesaving in establishing an airway when endotracheal intubation cannot be easily achieved.

Endotracheal Intubation

  • Indications: Refractory hypoxemic respiratory failure, hypercapnic respiratory failure, airway protection (e.g., intoxication, head trauma), upper airway obstruction (e.g., angioedema, tumor), severe metabolic acidosis or shock (e.g., type 4 respiratory failure, severe diabetic ketoacidosis), and need for hyperventilation as a treatment for increased intracranial pressure.
  • Before endotracheal tube intubation is attempted
    • Assure that monitoring equipment is working (including pulse oximetry, telemetry, and blood pressure monitoring) and that the patient has adequate working intravenous (IV) access.
    • Assure that all necessary equipment is at the bedside including working suction equipment, endotracheal tube (with stylet, lubricant, and balloon tested), 10 mL syringe to fill endotracheal tube balloon, oral or nasopharyngeal airway, bag-valve-mask connected to 15 L/min oxygen, direct or video laryngoscope, end-tidal CO2 monitor, medications for intubation, and tape or endotracheal holder.
    • Have the plan articulated and the equipment at the bedside (e.g., tracheal tube introducer and supraglottic device) in case of a difficult airway.
    • Evaluate head and neck positioning: Oral, pharyngeal, and tracheal axes should be aligned by flexing the neck and extending the head, achieving the “sniffing” position. Obese patients may require a shoulder roll or ramp.
    • The selected agents for intubation including neuromuscular blocking agents, opiates, and anxiolytics should be chosen based on their respective advantages and disadvantages in the given clinical situation. Commonly used agents for intubation are listed in Table 8-2.
      Table 8-2: Drugs to Facilitate Endotracheal Intubation
      DrugActionDose (IV)OnsetDurationComment
      PropofolSedation, amnesiaUnstable: 0.5 mg/kg
      Stable 1–1.5 mg/kg
      30–60 s5–10 minCauses hypotension and bradycardia; beneficial in seizures
      MidazolamSedation, amnesia0.02–0.08 mg/kg (generally 1–5 mg in adult)30–60 s15–30 minCauses hypotension; beneficial in seizures
      FentanylAnalgesia∼2 µg/kg15 s30–60 minCauses hypotension; used at lower doses as an adjunctive agent
      EtomidateSedationUnstable: 0.15 mg/kg
      Stable 0.3 mg/kg
      15–45 s3–12 minHemodynamically neutral; inhibits cortisol synthesis; decreases seizure threshold
      KetamineSedation, amnesia, analgesia1–3 mg/kg30 s5–10 minIncreases HR and BP; bronchodilator; may elevate ICP
      SuccinylcholineParalytic1–1.5 mg/kg30–60 s5–15 minContraindicated in hyperkalemia, history of malignant hypothermia, myopathy
      RocuroniumParalytic1 mg/kg45–60 s30–45 minCaution if difficult intubation or bag-valve-mask ventilation anticipated

      BP, blood pressure; HR, heart rate; ICP, intracranial pressure.

    • If patient not in extremis/cardiac arrest, a verbal time-out should be performed.
  • Techniques
    • Direct laryngoscopic orotracheal intubation: Most commonly used, requiring only a direct laryngoscope and light source. Procedure available in Table 8-4 and can be found in video form on the New England Journal of Medicine website.1
      Table 8-3: Commonly Used Sedation Medications in the Intensive Care Unit
      DrugDose (IV)Time to ArousalComment
      Propofol20–100 µg/kg/min10–15 minCauses hypotension, may cause hypertriglyceridemia or propofol-related infusion syndrome, beneficial in bronchospasm
      Midazolam1–10 mg/h1–2 hArousal time can be prolonged; active metabolite accumulates in renal failure; associated with delirium
      Fentanyl25–200 µg/h15 sCan cause chest wall rigidity and serotonin syndrome at higher doses
      Ketamine0.5–3 mg/kg/h5–10 minMay cause hypertension and tachycardia; may experience reemergence hallucinations, beneficial in bronchospasm.
      Dexmedetomidine0.1–1.5 mg/kg/h6–10 minDoes not cause respiratory depression, can cause hypotension and bradycardia
      Table 8-4: Procedure for Endotracheal Intubation, Needle Cricothyroidotomy, and Cricothyrotomy
      Endotracheal Intubation Using Direct Laryngoscopy
      EquipmentOxygen tubing, bag-valve-mask device, suction and tubing, oral airway, laryngoscope, laryngoscope blades, endotracheal tube with stylet, syringe, end-tidal carbon dioxide colorimeter
      TechniqueStep 1Place the patient in the “sniffing” position, with neck flexed and head extended; obese patients will require shoulder roll or ramp.
      Step 2Preoxygenate the patient with 100% oxygen through the bag-valve-mask device until saturations are maintained at >95% for 3–5 min and suction oral secretions as necessary.
      Step 3During preoxygenation, ensure that all equipment necessary is present and functional: check the endotracheal tube cuff with inflation and deflation and that the light of the laryngoscope is functional.
      Step 4Administer intravenous (IV) sedation; once the patient is appropriately sedated, open the mouth with the right hand and insert the laryngoscope blade into the right side of mouth with the left hand, sweeping the tongue to the left.
      Step 5Advance the blade to the base of the tongue and then lift vertically to visualize the vocal cords; do not tilt the laryngoscope.
      Step 6If vocal cords are visible, insert the endotracheal tube with the stylet with the right hand; once the cuff is past the vocal cords, remove stylet. Do not attempt intubation if the vocal cords are not visible.
      Step 7Advance the endotracheal tube until it is at 21 cm at the gum/teeth for women and 22 cm for men and inflate the cuff.
      Step 8Check tube location with end-tidal carbon dioxide colorimeter, auscultation over the chest and abdomen, AND chest radiograph.
      Needle Cricothyroidotomy
      EquipmentLarge-bore IV catheter with needle stylet, 3-mL Luer lock syringe with plunger removed, 7-mm inner diameter endotracheal tube adapter
      TechniqueStep 1Extend the neck and identify the cricothyroid membrane, located inferior to the thyroid cartilage and superior to the thyroid gland.
      Step 2Stabilize the thyroid cartilage with the nondominant hand and, using the dominant hand, introduce the IV catheter with the needle stylet at a 45-degree angle through the cricothyroid membrane into the trachea, aspirating air to confirm location.
      Step 3Advance the catheter to the hub, and remove the needle stylet.
      Step 4Attach the Luer lock syringe to the catheter and then the endotracheal tube adapter to the syringe to allow for bag-valve ventilation.
      Cricothyrotomy
      EquipmentScalpel, Kelly forceps, 6-mm inner diameter or smaller endotracheal tube
      TechniqueStep 1Extend the neck and identify the cricothyroid membrane, located inferior to the thyroid cartilage and superior to the thyroid gland.
      Step 2Stabilize the thyroid cartilage with the nondominant hand and, using the dominant hand, make a 1-cm horizontal incision just above the superior border of the cricoid.
      Step 3Using the Kelly forceps, dissect until the cricothyroid membrane is visualized and then make a vertical incision through the midline of the membrane, being careful to not pass the blade too deeply.
      Step 4Widen the incision with Kelly forceps until the endotracheal tube can be inserted and then inflate the cuff.
    • Video laryngoscopic orotracheal intubation: Allows for direct visual confirmation of intubation by a second observer via video monitoring and is particularly beneficial in more difficult airways.
    • Advanced techniques for specialists include blind nasotracheal intubation and flexible fiber optically guided orotracheal or nasotracheal intubation.
  • Verification of correct endotracheal tube location and positioning: Proper tube location must be ensured by
    • Fiber optic inspection of the airways through the endotracheal tube; or
    • Direct visualization of the endotracheal tube passing through the vocal cords; and
    • Use of an end-tidal CO2 monitor; and
    • CXR
    • Clinical evaluation of the patient (i.e., listening for bilateral breath sounds over the chest and the absence of ventilation over the stomach) and radiographic evaluation alone are unreliable for establishing correct endotracheal tube location.
    • The tip of the endotracheal tube should be 3–5 cm above the carina, depending on head and neck position.
  • After successful intubation
    • Tracheal tube cuff pressures: Should be monitored at regular intervals and maintained below capillary filling pressure (25 mm Hg) to prevent ischemic mucosal injury.
    • Sedation: Anxiolytics and opiates are frequently used to facilitate endotracheal intubation and mechanical ventilation. Commonly used agents are listed in Table 8-3.
  • Complications: Improper endotracheal tube location or positioning is the most important immediate complication to be recognized and corrected.
    • Esophageal intubation should be suspected if no end-tidal CO2 is detected after three to five breaths, hypoxemia persists or develops, there is a lack of breath sounds, or abdominal distention or regurgitation of stomach contents occurs.
    • Mainstem intubation should be suspected if peak airway pressures are elevated or there are unilateral breath sounds.
    • Other complications include dislodgment of teeth and upper airway trauma.

Surgical Airways

  • Indications for surgical airways in critical care
    • Life-threatening upper airway obstruction (e.g., epiglottitis, angioedema, facial burns, laryngeal/vocal cord edema) preventing bag-valve-mask ventilation and endotracheal intubation.
    • Need for prolonged respiratory support.
  • Needle cricothyrotomy: Indicated in emergency settings when the patient cannot be ventilated noninvasively, standard endotracheal intubation is unsuccessful, and a surgical airway cannot be immediately performed. The steps of the procedure are listed in Table 8-4.
  • Cricothyrotomy: Indicated in emergency settings when the patient cannot be ventilated noninvasively and standard endotracheal intubation is unsuccessful. The steps of the procedure are listed in Table 8-4.
  • Tracheostomy: Predominantly performed owing to need for prolonged respiratory support.
    • The optimal time to perform a tracheostomy in a patient requiring prolonged respiratory support is somewhat controversial. A recent randomized controlled trial did not demonstrate any benefit in regard to occurrence of ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) or long-term outcomes for those who received an early tracheostomy (after 6–8 days of intubation) compared with late tracheostomy (after 12–14 days of intubation).2 Generally, tracheostomy should be considered if prolonged ventilatory support is anticipated after 10–14 days of endotracheal intubation.
    • Complications: Tracheostomy sites require at least 72 hours to mature, and tube dislodgment before maturation can lead to serious and life-threatening complications.
      • A tracheostomy tube that has been dislodged before stoma maturation should not be reinserted owing to the risk of creating a false tract.
      • Standard endotracheal intubation should be performed if a tracheostomy tube is dislodged before stoma maturation.
      • Tracheoinnominate artery fistulas are an uncommon but life-threatening complication of a tracheostomy that occurs when an abnormal tract develops between the innominate artery and trachea, leading to hemorrhage. This complication most commonly occurs 7–14 days after the tracheostomy but can occur up to 6 weeks after the procedure. Immediate management includes overinflation of the tracheostomy tube cuff, digital compression of the stoma, and surgical exploration.3

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General Principles

Airway Management Before Intubation

  • Head and jaw positioning: First, the oropharynx should be inspected, and all foreign bodies should be removed. If the patient is unresponsive, the head tilt–chin lift maneuver should be performed (see Airway Emergencies in Chapter 26, Medical Emergencies). If neck immobilization is required, jaw thrust should be performed.
  • Oral and nasopharyngeal airways: Airway adjunct devices can be used to maintain a patent airway. Initially inserted with the concave curve of the airway facing toward the roof of the mouth. The oral airway then is turned 180 degrees as it is inserted so that the concave curve of the airway follows the natural curve of the tongue. Careful monitoring of airway patency is required, as malpositioning can push the tongue posteriorly and result in oropharyngeal obstruction. Nasopharyngeal airways are made of soft plastic and passed easily down one of the nasal passages to the posterior pharynx after topical nasal lubrication and anesthesia with viscous lidocaine jelly.
  • Bag-valve-mask ventilation: Ineffective respiratory efforts can be augmented with simple bag-valve-mask ventilation. Proper fitting and positioning of the mask using the “EC” hand position—thumb and index finger forming a “C” around the mask, and the remaining fingers forming an “E” to support the jaw—ensure a tight seal around the mouth and nose. Used in conjunction with proper positioning and airway adjuncts, e.g., oral airway. If possible, two hands should be used to optimize seal while a second clinician ventilates the patient. Bag-valve-mask ventilation is a critical skill in airway management and is frequently incorrectly performed.
  • Laryngeal mask airway (LMA): The LMA is a supraglottic airway device shaped like an endotracheal tube connected to an elliptical mask. It is designed to be inserted over the tongue and seated in the hypopharynx, covering the supraglottic structures and relatively isolating the trachea. It is a temporary airway and should not be used for prolonged ventilatory support. LMAs can be lifesaving in establishing an airway when endotracheal intubation cannot be easily achieved.

Endotracheal Intubation

  • Indications: Refractory hypoxemic respiratory failure, hypercapnic respiratory failure, airway protection (e.g., intoxication, head trauma), upper airway obstruction (e.g., angioedema, tumor), severe metabolic acidosis or shock (e.g., type 4 respiratory failure, severe diabetic ketoacidosis), and need for hyperventilation as a treatment for increased intracranial pressure.
  • Before endotracheal tube intubation is attempted
    • Assure that monitoring equipment is working (including pulse oximetry, telemetry, and blood pressure monitoring) and that the patient has adequate working intravenous (IV) access.
    • Assure that all necessary equipment is at the bedside including working suction equipment, endotracheal tube (with stylet, lubricant, and balloon tested), 10 mL syringe to fill endotracheal tube balloon, oral or nasopharyngeal airway, bag-valve-mask connected to 15 L/min oxygen, direct or video laryngoscope, end-tidal CO2 monitor, medications for intubation, and tape or endotracheal holder.
    • Have the plan articulated and the equipment at the bedside (e.g., tracheal tube introducer and supraglottic device) in case of a difficult airway.
    • Evaluate head and neck positioning: Oral, pharyngeal, and tracheal axes should be aligned by flexing the neck and extending the head, achieving the “sniffing” position. Obese patients may require a shoulder roll or ramp.
    • The selected agents for intubation including neuromuscular blocking agents, opiates, and anxiolytics should be chosen based on their respective advantages and disadvantages in the given clinical situation. Commonly used agents for intubation are listed in Table 8-2.
      Table 8-2: Drugs to Facilitate Endotracheal Intubation
      DrugActionDose (IV)OnsetDurationComment
      PropofolSedation, amnesiaUnstable: 0.5 mg/kg
      Stable 1–1.5 mg/kg
      30–60 s5–10 minCauses hypotension and bradycardia; beneficial in seizures
      MidazolamSedation, amnesia0.02–0.08 mg/kg (generally 1–5 mg in adult)30–60 s15–30 minCauses hypotension; beneficial in seizures
      FentanylAnalgesia∼2 µg/kg15 s30–60 minCauses hypotension; used at lower doses as an adjunctive agent
      EtomidateSedationUnstable: 0.15 mg/kg
      Stable 0.3 mg/kg
      15–45 s3–12 minHemodynamically neutral; inhibits cortisol synthesis; decreases seizure threshold
      KetamineSedation, amnesia, analgesia1–3 mg/kg30 s5–10 minIncreases HR and BP; bronchodilator; may elevate ICP
      SuccinylcholineParalytic1–1.5 mg/kg30–60 s5–15 minContraindicated in hyperkalemia, history of malignant hypothermia, myopathy
      RocuroniumParalytic1 mg/kg45–60 s30–45 minCaution if difficult intubation or bag-valve-mask ventilation anticipated

      BP, blood pressure; HR, heart rate; ICP, intracranial pressure.

    • If patient not in extremis/cardiac arrest, a verbal time-out should be performed.
  • Techniques
    • Direct laryngoscopic orotracheal intubation: Most commonly used, requiring only a direct laryngoscope and light source. Procedure available in Table 8-4 and can be found in video form on the New England Journal of Medicine website.1
      Table 8-3: Commonly Used Sedation Medications in the Intensive Care Unit
      DrugDose (IV)Time to ArousalComment
      Propofol20–100 µg/kg/min10–15 minCauses hypotension, may cause hypertriglyceridemia or propofol-related infusion syndrome, beneficial in bronchospasm
      Midazolam1–10 mg/h1–2 hArousal time can be prolonged; active metabolite accumulates in renal failure; associated with delirium
      Fentanyl25–200 µg/h15 sCan cause chest wall rigidity and serotonin syndrome at higher doses
      Ketamine0.5–3 mg/kg/h5–10 minMay cause hypertension and tachycardia; may experience reemergence hallucinations, beneficial in bronchospasm.
      Dexmedetomidine0.1–1.5 mg/kg/h6–10 minDoes not cause respiratory depression, can cause hypotension and bradycardia
      Table 8-4: Procedure for Endotracheal Intubation, Needle Cricothyroidotomy, and Cricothyrotomy
      Endotracheal Intubation Using Direct Laryngoscopy
      EquipmentOxygen tubing, bag-valve-mask device, suction and tubing, oral airway, laryngoscope, laryngoscope blades, endotracheal tube with stylet, syringe, end-tidal carbon dioxide colorimeter
      TechniqueStep 1Place the patient in the “sniffing” position, with neck flexed and head extended; obese patients will require shoulder roll or ramp.
      Step 2Preoxygenate the patient with 100% oxygen through the bag-valve-mask device until saturations are maintained at >95% for 3–5 min and suction oral secretions as necessary.
      Step 3During preoxygenation, ensure that all equipment necessary is present and functional: check the endotracheal tube cuff with inflation and deflation and that the light of the laryngoscope is functional.
      Step 4Administer intravenous (IV) sedation; once the patient is appropriately sedated, open the mouth with the right hand and insert the laryngoscope blade into the right side of mouth with the left hand, sweeping the tongue to the left.
      Step 5Advance the blade to the base of the tongue and then lift vertically to visualize the vocal cords; do not tilt the laryngoscope.
      Step 6If vocal cords are visible, insert the endotracheal tube with the stylet with the right hand; once the cuff is past the vocal cords, remove stylet. Do not attempt intubation if the vocal cords are not visible.
      Step 7Advance the endotracheal tube until it is at 21 cm at the gum/teeth for women and 22 cm for men and inflate the cuff.
      Step 8Check tube location with end-tidal carbon dioxide colorimeter, auscultation over the chest and abdomen, AND chest radiograph.
      Needle Cricothyroidotomy
      EquipmentLarge-bore IV catheter with needle stylet, 3-mL Luer lock syringe with plunger removed, 7-mm inner diameter endotracheal tube adapter
      TechniqueStep 1Extend the neck and identify the cricothyroid membrane, located inferior to the thyroid cartilage and superior to the thyroid gland.
      Step 2Stabilize the thyroid cartilage with the nondominant hand and, using the dominant hand, introduce the IV catheter with the needle stylet at a 45-degree angle through the cricothyroid membrane into the trachea, aspirating air to confirm location.
      Step 3Advance the catheter to the hub, and remove the needle stylet.
      Step 4Attach the Luer lock syringe to the catheter and then the endotracheal tube adapter to the syringe to allow for bag-valve ventilation.
      Cricothyrotomy
      EquipmentScalpel, Kelly forceps, 6-mm inner diameter or smaller endotracheal tube
      TechniqueStep 1Extend the neck and identify the cricothyroid membrane, located inferior to the thyroid cartilage and superior to the thyroid gland.
      Step 2Stabilize the thyroid cartilage with the nondominant hand and, using the dominant hand, make a 1-cm horizontal incision just above the superior border of the cricoid.
      Step 3Using the Kelly forceps, dissect until the cricothyroid membrane is visualized and then make a vertical incision through the midline of the membrane, being careful to not pass the blade too deeply.
      Step 4Widen the incision with Kelly forceps until the endotracheal tube can be inserted and then inflate the cuff.
    • Video laryngoscopic orotracheal intubation: Allows for direct visual confirmation of intubation by a second observer via video monitoring and is particularly beneficial in more difficult airways.
    • Advanced techniques for specialists include blind nasotracheal intubation and flexible fiber optically guided orotracheal or nasotracheal intubation.
  • Verification of correct endotracheal tube location and positioning: Proper tube location must be ensured by
    • Fiber optic inspection of the airways through the endotracheal tube; or
    • Direct visualization of the endotracheal tube passing through the vocal cords; and
    • Use of an end-tidal CO2 monitor; and
    • CXR
    • Clinical evaluation of the patient (i.e., listening for bilateral breath sounds over the chest and the absence of ventilation over the stomach) and radiographic evaluation alone are unreliable for establishing correct endotracheal tube location.
    • The tip of the endotracheal tube should be 3–5 cm above the carina, depending on head and neck position.
  • After successful intubation
    • Tracheal tube cuff pressures: Should be monitored at regular intervals and maintained below capillary filling pressure (25 mm Hg) to prevent ischemic mucosal injury.
    • Sedation: Anxiolytics and opiates are frequently used to facilitate endotracheal intubation and mechanical ventilation. Commonly used agents are listed in Table 8-3.
  • Complications: Improper endotracheal tube location or positioning is the most important immediate complication to be recognized and corrected.
    • Esophageal intubation should be suspected if no end-tidal CO2 is detected after three to five breaths, hypoxemia persists or develops, there is a lack of breath sounds, or abdominal distention or regurgitation of stomach contents occurs.
    • Mainstem intubation should be suspected if peak airway pressures are elevated or there are unilateral breath sounds.
    • Other complications include dislodgment of teeth and upper airway trauma.

Surgical Airways

  • Indications for surgical airways in critical care
    • Life-threatening upper airway obstruction (e.g., epiglottitis, angioedema, facial burns, laryngeal/vocal cord edema) preventing bag-valve-mask ventilation and endotracheal intubation.
    • Need for prolonged respiratory support.
  • Needle cricothyrotomy: Indicated in emergency settings when the patient cannot be ventilated noninvasively, standard endotracheal intubation is unsuccessful, and a surgical airway cannot be immediately performed. The steps of the procedure are listed in Table 8-4.
  • Cricothyrotomy: Indicated in emergency settings when the patient cannot be ventilated noninvasively and standard endotracheal intubation is unsuccessful. The steps of the procedure are listed in Table 8-4.
  • Tracheostomy: Predominantly performed owing to need for prolonged respiratory support.
    • The optimal time to perform a tracheostomy in a patient requiring prolonged respiratory support is somewhat controversial. A recent randomized controlled trial did not demonstrate any benefit in regard to occurrence of ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) or long-term outcomes for those who received an early tracheostomy (after 6–8 days of intubation) compared with late tracheostomy (after 12–14 days of intubation).2 Generally, tracheostomy should be considered if prolonged ventilatory support is anticipated after 10–14 days of endotracheal intubation.
    • Complications: Tracheostomy sites require at least 72 hours to mature, and tube dislodgment before maturation can lead to serious and life-threatening complications.
      • A tracheostomy tube that has been dislodged before stoma maturation should not be reinserted owing to the risk of creating a false tract.
      • Standard endotracheal intubation should be performed if a tracheostomy tube is dislodged before stoma maturation.
      • Tracheoinnominate artery fistulas are an uncommon but life-threatening complication of a tracheostomy that occurs when an abnormal tract develops between the innominate artery and trachea, leading to hemorrhage. This complication most commonly occurs 7–14 days after the tracheostomy but can occur up to 6 weeks after the procedure. Immediate management includes overinflation of the tracheostomy tube cuff, digital compression of the stoma, and surgical exploration.3

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