Emergency airway puncture
St. Luke's Hospital
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Emergency airway puncture

Definition

Emergency airway puncture is the placement of a hollow needle through the throat into the airway. It is done to treat life-threatening choking.

Alternative Names

Needle cricothyrotomy

Description

Emergency airway puncture is done in an emergency situation, when someone is choking and all other efforts to assist with breathing have failed.

  • A hollow needle or tube can be inserted into the throat, just below the Adam's apple (cricoid cartilage), into the airway.
  • In a hospital, a small cut in the skin is made before inserting the needle.

Why the Procedure Is Performed

A cricothyrotomy is an emergency procedure to relieve an airway obstruction until surgery can be done to place a breathing tube (tracheostomy).

Risks

Risks for this procedure include:

  • Injury to the voice box (larynx), thyroid gland, or esophagus

Risks for any surgery are:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection

Outlook (Prognosis)

How well the person does depends on the cause of the airway blockage and how quickly the person receives proper breathing support.

See: Tracheostomy

References

Hebert RB, Bose S, Mace SE. Cricothyrotomy and transtracheal jet ventilation. In: Roberts JR, Hedges JR, eds. Clinical Procedures in Emergency Medicine. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2009:chap 6.

Thomas SH, Brown DFM. Foreign bodies. In: Marx J, ed. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2009: chap 57.



Review Date: 7/16/2011
Reviewed By: Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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St. Luke's Hospital - 232 South Woods Mill Road - Chesterfield, MO 63017 Main Number: 314-434-1500 Emergency Dept: 314-205-6990 Patient Billing: 888-924-9200
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