Cricothyrotomy in the emergency department revisited

Mark J. Erlandson, Joseph E. Clinton, Ernest Ruiz, James Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

94 Scopus citations


Thirty-nine emergency cricothyrotomies were reviewed from the emergency department of Hennepin County Medical Center during the 4-year period ending December 1985. Due to technical changes in airway management and a desire to assess their impact, this experience was compared with a previously reported series of 38 emergency cricothyrotomies from the same department. Technical changes include the use of paralyzing agents, transtracheal needle ventilation, and the use of only vertical skin incisions and #4 Shiley tubes when cricothyrotomy is performed. The presenting problem, indications for cricothyrotomy, and complications of the procedure were compared between the two series. Fewer cricothyrotomies were done as a fraction of total surgical and nonsurgical tracheal intubations in the present series (1.7%) compared to the previous series (2.7%). The complication rate decreased from 40% in the previous series to 23% in the present series. Incorrect site of tube placement (10%) and hemorrhage (8%) remain the two leading complications. However, the tube was in the trachea in all cases, and acceptable ventilation was achieved. No patient developed a clinically significant hematoma or hemorrhage from cricothyrotomy. It is concluded that our technical changes in airway management have helped to decrease both the relative frequency of cricothyrotomy and the complication rate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)115-118
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Emergency Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1989

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2014 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • airway management
  • complications
  • emergency cricothyrotomy
  • paralyzing agents
  • transtracheal needle ventilation


Dive into the research topics of 'Cricothyrotomy in the emergency department revisited'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this