Skip to main content Accessibility help

Role of cricothyroid cannulation in head and neck surgery

  • J C Ryan (a1) and B McGuire (a2)



This paper outlines our use of cricothyroid cannulation in those patients undergoing head and neck surgery in whom a ‘difficult airway’ is anticipated. Audit results are presented.

Materials and methods:

Prospective data collection for all patients undergoing cricothyroid cannulation for management of head and neck neoplasms, over a two-year period.


Thirty-nine cricothyroid cannulae were sited in 32 patients. All patients with laryngeal tumours underwent the procedure while awake, prior to the anticipated difficult intubation, and the cannulae were removed within six hours. Most cannulations performed under general anaesthetic were for anticipated ‘dangerous extubations’ in patients with oral cavity tumours, and these cannulae remained in place for 24 hours. Tracheostomy was possibly avoided in six patients. No complications were identified.


Cricothyroid cannulation can be a simple, safe, reliable technique which is a useful adjunct in the management of patients with a potentially difficult airway.


Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Mr J Ryan, Department of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery, Dunedin Hospital, 201 Great King Street Dunedin, New Zealand. Fax: +64 3 4747956 E-mail:


Hide All
1 Benumof, JL. Management of the difficult adult airway. Anesthesiology 1991;75:1087–110
2 Benumof, JL, Scheller, MS. The importance of transtracheal jet ventilation in the management of the difficult airway. Anesthesiology 1989;71:769–78
3 Carden, E, Becker, G, Hamood, H. Percutaneous jet ventilation. Ann Otol Rhinol Laryngol 1976;85:652–5
4 Miller, J, Lovino, W, Fine, J, Klain, M. High frequency jet ventilation in oral and maxillofacial surgery. J Oral Maxillofac Surg 1982;40:790–3
5 Monnier, PH, Ravussin, P, Savary, M, Freeman, J. Percutaneous transtracheal ventilation for laser endoscopic treatment of laryngeal and subglottic lesions. Clin Otol 1988;13:209–17
6 Depierraz, B, Ravussin, P, Brossard, E, Monnier, P. Percutaneous transtracheal jet ventilation for pediatric endoscopic laser treatment of laryngeal and subglottic lesions. Can J Anaesth 1994;41:1200–7
7 Bourgain, JL, Desruennes, E, Fischler, M, Ravussin, P. Transtracheal high frequency jet ventilation for endoscopic airway surgery: a multicentre study. Br J Anaesth 2001;87:870–5
8 Russell, WC, Maguire, AM, Jones, GW. Cricothyroidotomy and transtracheal high frequency jet ventilation for elective laryngeal surgery. An audit of 90 cases. Anaesth Intensive Care 2000;28:62–7
9 Gerig, HJ, Schnider, T, Heidegger, T. Prophylactic percutaneous transtracheal catheterisation in the management of patients with anticipated difficult airways: a case series. Anaesthesia 2005;60:801–5
10 Standley, TDA, Smith, HL. Emergency tracheal catheterisation for jet ventilation: a role for the ENT surgeon? J Laryngol Otol 2005;119:235–6
11 Higgins, KM, Punthakee, X. Meta-analysis comparison of open versus percutaneous tracheostomy. Laryngoscope 2007;117:447–54
12 McGill, J, Clinton, JE, Ruiz, E. Cricothyroidotomy in the emergency department. Ann Emerg Med 1982;11:361–4
13 Smith, BR, Babinski, M, Klain, M, Pfaeffle, H. Percutaneous transtracheal ventilation. Journal of the American College of Emergency Physicians 1976;5:765–70


Role of cricothyroid cannulation in head and neck surgery

  • J C Ryan (a1) and B McGuire (a2)


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed