Airway trauma in a high patient volume academic cardiac electrophysiology laboratory center

Zhe Yan, Jonathan W. Tanner, David Lin, Ara A. Chalian, Joseph S. Savino, Lee A. Fleisher, Renyu Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND:: Providing anesthesia and managing airways in the electrophysiology suite can be challenging because of its unique setting outside of the conventional operating room. We report our experience of several cases of reported airway trauma including tongue and pharyngeal hematoma and vocal cord paralysis in this setting. METHODS:: We analyzed all of the reported airway trauma cases between December 2009 and January 2011 in our cardiac electrophysiology laboratories and compared these cases with those without airway trauma. Data from 87 cases, including 16 cases with reported airway trauma (trauma group) and 71 cases without reported airway trauma from the same patient population pool at the same period (control group), were collected via review of medical records. RESULTS:: Airway trauma was reported for 16 patients (0.7%) in 14 months among 2434 anesthetic cases. None of these patients had life-threatening airway obstruction. The avoidance of muscle relaxants during induction in patients with a body mass index less than 30 was found to be a significant risk factor for airway trauma (P = 0.04; odds ratio, 10; 95% confidence interval, 1.1-482). Tongue or soft tissue bite occurred in 2 cases where soft bite block was not used during cardioversion. No statistically significant difference was found between the trauma and the control groups for preprocedure anticoagulation, anticoagulation during the procedure, or reversal of heparin at the end of the procedure. CONCLUSIONS:: The overall incidence of reported airway trauma was 0.7% in our study population. Tongue injury was the most common airway trauma. The cause seems to have been multifactorial; however, airway management without muscle relaxant emerged as a potential risk factor. Intubation with muscle relaxant is recommended, as is placing a soft bite block and ensuring no soft tissue is between the teeth before cardioversion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)112-117
Number of pages6
JournalAnesthesia and analgesia
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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