Introduction: The cricothyroid membrane is used as a landmark for emergent surgical airway access. Ultrasound identification of the cricothyroid membrane is more accurate than landmarking by palpation. The objective of this study was to determine whether head of bed elevation affects the position of the cricothyroid membrane as identified by ultrasound. Methods: This was a prospective, observational study on a convenience sample of adult patients presenting to the emergency department. Participants underwent ultrasound scans by trained physicians at 0, 30 and 90 degrees head of bed elevation to identify the cricothyroid membrane. The cricothyroid membrane position identified at 0 degrees was used as a reference, and the change in position of the external landmark of the cricothyroid membrane with the patient at 30 and 90 degrees was measured. Additionally, the patients gender, age, body mass index (BMI) and Mallampati score were recorded for comparison. Linear mixed effects models with 95% confidence intervals were used to determine the effect of head of bed elevation, age, BMI and Mallampati score on the differences between measured distances. Results: One hundred and two patients were enrolled in the study. The average change in position from reference was statistically significant for both 30 degrees [2.72±0.77mm (p<0.01)] and 90 degrees [4.23±0.77mm (p<0.01)] head of bed elevation. The adjusted linear mixed effects model showed age greater than 70, BMI over 30 and higher Mallampati score were associated with greater change in distance between cricothyroid membrane landmarks. Conclusion: There was a statistically significant difference in the position of the cricothyroid membrane comparing 0 degrees to 30 and 90 degrees head of bed elevation. However, the relatively small differences suggest that this finding is not clinically relevant. Further study is required to evaluate if these differences impact the actual successful performance of cricothyrotomy.
* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.
Usage data cannot currently be displayed