EMCrit Podcast 23 – Awake Intubation for Trauma and Medical Patients

So after the awake intubation video went up on emrap tv, I got a flurry of emails telling me how cool the concept is, but questioning who this would actually be usable on.

To answer that question, we first must discuss who actually requires intubation. If you wait until the patient is apneic, then of course you can’t use awake intubation. The idea is to intubate before the patient stops breathing.

In Ron Walls’ airway manual and in his class, he gives the following reasons for intubation:

Crash-a patient who is dead or near dead

Can’t Protect Airway

Can’t Maintain Ventilation/Oxygenation

Expected decline in Clinical Status

Now some of these make sense and some not so much

Here are my reasons to intubate:

Crash-for me this is any apneic patient

Can’t Protect Airway-this one is good, a patient with pooling secretions or obtundation with vomiting buys plastic

Possible Loss of Airway-angioedema, anaphylaxis, neck trauma. These are good reasons to intubate and usually earlier is better and safer.

Oxygenation/Ventilation issues for me mean you intervene. But this doesn’t necessarily mean intubation, if the patient has a reversible problem, put them on Non-invasive instead of intubating. See the podcast.

So it all comes down to the last reason

Expected decline-this should be the reason for many ED intubations. If the patient has O2/CO2 issues and they will be getting worse, then consider intubation.

Supply/Demand Imbalance-Last reason, not discussed as often in the ED is severe metabolic acidosis or shock where the lungs are causing a huge metabolic demand in a patient without much supply.

So who can be intubated awake? Any patient except the crash airway can be intubated awake. If you think they are a difficult airway, temporize with NIV while you topically anesthetize and then do the patient awake while they keep breathing.

Who is a difficult airway, there are few good answers.

THe LEMON rule also coined by the Walls crew is probably as good as any:

Look at head and neck

Evaluate 3-3-2

Mallampati

Obstruction

Neck Mobility

see here for more

I also discuss a new possible indication for awake intubation

photo by pig sty ave
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EMCrit Podcast 18 – The Infamous Awake Intubation Video

This post marks the return of the Awake Intubation Video. If you’ve seen it, we will have a brand new post early next week. If you haven’t, well you are in for a treat:

Awake Intubation can save your butt!

It requires forethought and humility–you must be able to say to yourself, “I am not sure I will be able to successfully intubate this patient.” However, the payoff for this thought process is enormous. You can attempt an intubation on a difficult airway with very few downsides. If you get it, you look like a star, if you don’t you have not made the situation worse.

Two of my critical care resident specialists, Raghu Seethala and Xun Zhong, volunteered to intubate each other awake. The purpose of this was to let them gain experience, understand what their patients would feel during the procedure, and to prove that awake intubation can be done without complicated nerve block injections or fragile equipment, such as a bronchoscope.

Click Here to Download the Video

Look for this area in the lower right of the screen

Here is the procedure for ED Awake Intubation–EMCrit Style:

DRY THEM OUT & PRETREAT GAG(Do All)

If you can give it early 10-15 min before topicalizing, it will be most effective.

  • Glycopyrolate: 0.2 mg IVP (No central effects – does not cross BBB. You can use atropine, but more side effects are possible)
  • Suction and then pad mouth dry with gauze – you want the mouth very dry!
  • Adminster Odansetron 4mg IV to blunt the gag-reflex

TOPICALIZE (Do All)

  • 5 cc of 4% lidocaine nebulized @ 5 liters per min
  • Gargle with viscous lidocaine (4% best, 2% ok). Place a blob (~3 cc) on a tongue depressor, put it in the back of the throat and have the patient gargle and then spit
  • Spray the epiglottis, cords, and trachea with 4% lidocaine (3 cc) in a Mucosal Atomizer Device (MAD). The patient will cough during this spraying, wear eye/face protection
  • Have another syringe loaded with 4% lidocaine to spray with during the procedure

Note: the systemic and pulmonary absorption from this method is quite low. The only place to watch out is spraying the trachea. I would not spray more than 2-3 cc down the ol’ windpipe.

SEDATE (Choose one!)

  • Ketamine and propofol in the same syringe makes Ketofol. The classic mix is 50 mg of ketamine to make 5 cc and 50 mg of propofol to make 5 cc. Put these both in a 10 cc syringe and shake. Depending on the patient’s hemodynamics, I sometimes will use more ketamine (75% instead of 50%). Give 1-2 cc every minute until you have the patient relaxed, but still breathing and arousable.
  • Ketamine alone also works just fine. Start with 20 mg and give 10 mg every minute or so.
  • If you have it, Dexmedetomidine also works very well as long as your patient is not bradycardic.
  • If you have neither of these 2 mg of midazolam will do just fine.
  • Preoxygenate with NRB

  • Optimally position (ear to sternal notch) with the head tilted all the way back

  • Restrain both arms with soft restraints to prevent the “grabbies”

  • Switch to nasal cannula

  • INTUBATE with Fiberoptic laryngoscope and bougie

  • If the patient coughs or is uncomfortable after placing the bougie through the cords, push more med from the ketofol syringe.

  • Thread  the tube over the bougie with the laryngoscope still in the mouth

  • Confirm tube placement

That’s all for this week

For more info on awake ED intubation, you can view a complete lecture here

Thanks to Raghu and Xun for risking their singing careers and to Jimmy & Anita for technical support. *
The opinions on this site and in the video represent the author’s and not the opinions or policies of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine or Elmhurst Hospital Center. It is not my intention to provide specific medical advice for any individual patient. Please confirm anything on this video with your own clinical judgment and the policies and procedures of your institution. This video is for education purposes only; it does not represent a standard of care or clinical advice.

EMCrit Podcast 4 – Awake Intubation

The video for this lecture is up at this link.

Awake intubation can save your butt.

It requires forethought and humility–you must be able to say to yourself, “I am not sure I will be able to successfully intubate this patient.” However, the payoff for this thought process is enormous. You can try an intubation in the ED with very few downsides. If you get it, you look like a star, if you don’t you have not made the situation worse.

Two of my critical care resident specialists, Raghu Seethala and Xun Zhong, volunteered to intubate each other awake. The purpose of this was to let them gain experience, understand what their patients would feel during the procedure, and to prove that awake intubation can be done without complicated nerve block injections or fragile equipment, such as a bronchoscope.

Here is the procedure for ED Awake Intubation–EMCrit Style:

DRY THEM OUT (Do All)

If you can give it early 10-15 min before topicalizing, it will be most effective.

  • Glycopyrolate: 0.2 mg IVP (No central effects – does not cross BBB. You can use atropine, but more side effects are possible)
  • Suction and then pad mouth dry with gauze – you want the mouth very dry!

TOPICALIZE (Do All)

  • 5 cc of 4% lidocaine nebulized @ 5 liters per min
  • Gargle with viscous lidocaine (4% best, 2% ok). Place a blob (~3 cc) on a tongue depressor, put it in the back of the throat and have the patient gargle and then spit
  • Spray the epiglottis, cords, and trachea with 4% lidocaine (3 cc) in a Mucosal Atomizer Device (MAD). The patient will cough during this spraying, wear eye/face protection
  • Have another syringe loaded with 4% lidocaine to spray with during the procedure

Note: the systemic and pulmonary absorption from this method is quite low. The only place to watch out is spraying the trachea. I would not spray more than 2-3 cc down the ol’ windpipe.

SEDATE (Choose one!)

  • Ketamine and propofol in the same syringe makes Ketofol. The classic mix is 50 mg of ketamine to make 5 cc and 50 mg of propofol to make 5 cc. Put these both in a 10 cc syringe and shake. Depending on the patient’s hemodynamics, I sometimes will use more ketamine (75% instead of 50%). Give 1-2 cc every minute until you have the patient relaxed, but still breathing and arousable.
  • Ketamine alone also works just fine. Start with 20 mg and give 10 mg every minute or so.
  • If you have it, Dexmedetomidine also works very well as long as your patient is not bradycardic.
  • If you have neither of these 2 mg of midazolam will do just fine.
  • Preoxygenate with NRB

  • Optimally position (ear to sternal notch) with the head tilted all the way back

  • Restrain both arms with soft restraints to prevent the “grabbies”

  • Switch to nasal cannula

  • INTUBATE with Fiberoptic laryngoscope and bougie

  • If the patient coughs or is uncomfortable after placing the bougie through the cords, push the remainder of the ketofol syringe.

  • Thread  the tube over the bougie with the laryngoscope still in the mouth

  • Confirm tube placement

That’s all for this week

For more info on awake ED intubation, you can view a complete lecture here

Thanks to Raghu and Xun for risking their singing careers and to Jimmy & Anita for technical support. *
The opinions on this site and in the video represent the author’s and not the opinions or policies of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine or Elmhurst Hospital Center. It is not my intention to provide specific medical advice for any individual patient. Please confirm anything on this video with your own clinical judgment and the policies and procedures of your institution. This video is for education purposes only; it does not represent a standard of care or clinical advice.
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