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Online ISSN 1827-1596
Salvi L. Juliano G., Zucchetti M., Sisillo E.
IRCCS Centro Cardiologico, «Fondazione Monzino» - Milano, Servizio di Anestesia e Terapia Intensiva
A male patient suffering for exertional angina was scheduled for coronary bypass. Physical examination was unremarkable except for oropharynx classified as Mallampati II.
After anesthetic induction with fentanyl 10 μg/kg, thiopental 5 mg/kg and muscle relaxation with succynilcoline 1 mg/kg, the patient was ventilated via a face mask. Laryngoscopy revealed a bulky mass arising from the rigth base of the tongue hiding the epiglottis and all the vocal apparatus (Cormack class 4); a failed intubation caused bleeding. Facial mask ventilation became more difficult therefore, consi-dering the task on managing the airway, a n. 4 laryngeal mask was positioned by the senior anesthetist. Two intubation attempts failed while ventilation via laryngeal mask became more and more difficult. Surgery was therefore cancelled due to inability to airway management.
The mass, biopsied by an otolaryngologist, resulted to be a lingual tonsillar hyperthrophy and therefore was not removed. The patients was re-scheduled for cardiac surgery. Maintain-ing spontaneous breathing during light sedation, with topical anesthesia, this patient was successfully intubated over an Olympus BF P 10 bronchoscope. The patient had an uneventful operation, was regularly extubated and was discharged on the sixth postoperative day free from airway complications. Although we followed only some of the guidelines for the management of the difficult airway: a senior anesthetist was immediately called when an anatomic alteration was evident; progressive difficulty in maintaining the airway prompted the positioning of a LMA, the restoration of the spontaneous breathing and the cancellation of the elective operation had been mandatory when a class 4 Cormack was found at laryngoscopy. This situation requires an alternative approach to intubation or with the retrograde technique or with the aid of a fiberscope both maintaining spontaneous breathing.