These recommendations for airway management (AM) in adult patients developing hematomas after neck surgery were initiated by an open discussion forum organized by our working group in March 2011. In patients with hematomas following neck surgery, distortion of upper airway anatomy and laryngeal edema formation may make face-mask ventilation, identification of laryngeal structures, and tracheal intubation difficult or even impossible.
We studied published guidelines, recommendations, and evaluated strategies for the management of the difficult airway; furthermore, we reviewed the current literature with emphasis on AM in emergency situations, particularly in patients with acute upper airway obstruction. Based on these reviews, available evidence, and expert opinions and taking into account national preferences and equipment availability, we generated these recommendations in order to assist the Austrian anesthesia community in individual decision-making in these potentially life-threatening situations.
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