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MINERVA ANESTESIOLOGICA

A Journal on Anesthesiology, Resuscitation, Analgesia and Intensive Care


Official Journal of the Italian Society of Anesthesiology, Analgesia, Resuscitation and Intensive Care
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Minerva Anestesiologica 2002 July-August;68(7-8):621-5

language: Italian

Tracheal rupture a complication of orotracheal intubation

Luchini L. 1, Brega M. 2, Giani I. 2, Cosimini P. 1, Santini L. 2, Giunta G. 3

1 IV U.O. Anestesia e Rianimazione Universitaria A.O.P., Pisa
2 Scuola di Specializzazione Anestesia e Rianimazione
3 Cattedra d’Anestesia e Rianimazione Università degli Studi di Pisa, Pisa


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One of the most frequent anesthesiogical manoeuvres is orotracheal intubation (OTI). Many complications can occur during OTI, one of these is the rupture of the trachea (TR) and/or of the bronchi. The aim of this study is to highlight the risk of TR during OTI. Over a period of three years of activity (1997-1999) in the Cardiothoracic Department of Pisa University nine patients we treated, eight of which were women ranging from 35 to 95 years of age. In the majority of the cases clinical signs like subcutaneous emphysema of the face and neck, hemoptysis and dyspnoea, variably combined were present. An X-ray of the thorax carried out on six patients did not permit the diagnosis. Bronchoscopy was the diagnostic examination in all nine patients. Seven cases were treated by senior anaesthesiologists, without stilet and OTI was easy. Predictive elements for difficult intubation were not observed in any case. Only one patient had a voluminous intrathoracic goitre dislocating the trachea. The nine patients were all treated surgically as they were all symptomatic and with important transmural lacerations that caused pneumothorax or pneumomediastinum. The survival percentage in the third month is 100%. Although rare TR must be suspected when clinical signs are present; bronchoscopy is the examination which permits diagnosis and a correct therapy.

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