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A Journal on Anesthesiology, Resuscitation, Analgesia and Intensive Care
Minerva Anestesiologica 2002 October;68(10):775-81
Fibreoptic awake intubation for caesarean section in a parturient with predicted difficult airway
Anaesthesia and Resuscitation Operative Unit General Hospital, Feltre (Belluno)
Anaesthetic management of a parturient with predicted difficult airway presenting for caesarean section (CS) is not a straightforward decision: general anaesthesia should be avoided because intubation can be impossible and a “cannot intubate, cannot ventilate” scenario might ensue, on the other hand regional techniques can be unsuccessful or, though rarely, have complications that require emergency intubation. The case is presented of a primigravida admitted to hospital at 37 weeks’ gestation with hypertension, intrauterine growth retardation and oligohydramnios. After a few days’ observation, it was decided to proceed with an elective CS. The preoperative airway examination revealed a poor mouth opening with an interdental distance of 20 mm and a Mallampati class IV. The patient was classified as a case of difficult intubation and the following anaesthetic options were considered: epidural anaesthesia, spinal anaesthesia and awake fibreoptic intubation followed by general anaesthesia. The pros and the cons of these techniques were explained to the patient and it was suggested that awake fibreoptic intubation was the safest option. The patient gave her consent, so an uneventful nasal awake fibreoptic intubation was carried out under local anaesthesia. This case report offers the opportunity to underline the risk to perform a central blockade in a parturient with predicted difficult intubation, arguing that the safest course of action is an awake fibrescopic intubation, besides some controversial points to safely perform awake fibreoptic intubation in obstetric patients are discussed.