This is the official guideline endorsed by the specialty associations involved in the care of head and neck cancer patients in the UK. The anaesthetic considerations for head and neck cancer surgery are especially challenging given the high burden of concurrent comorbidity in this patient group and the need to share the airway with the surgical team. This paper provides recommendations on the anaesthetic considerations during surgery for head and neck cancer.
• All theatre staff should participate in the World Health Organization checklist process. (R)
• Post-operative airway management should be guided by local protocols. (R)
• Patients admitted to post-operative care units with tracheal tubes in place should be monitored with continuous capnography. Removal for tracheal tubes is the responsibility of the anaesthetist. (R)
• Anaesthetists should formally hand over care to an appropriately trained practitioner in the post-operative or intensive care unit. (G)
• Intensive care unit staff looking after post-operative tracheostomies must be clear about which patients are not suitable for bag-mask ventilation and/or oral intubation in the event of emergencies. (R)