Medical IDs for Difficult Intubation
The confidence to live with difficult intubation
During the global pandemic, you may have heard the words intubate and intubation mentioned in news reports, at hospitals and healthcare centers, and in conversation. While these words have become more familiar to most people today, exactly what intubation entails may not be. In some cases, a person with Covid can have a case so severe, that doctors have no choice but to intubate (insertion of an artificial ventilation tube into the trachea) to help them breathe.
While intubation can be a frightening experience, in the hands of a skilled critical care or ER doctor, this lifesaving procedure can be performed on most people with few to no complications. In some cases, however, a person may be living with difficult intubation, which can make it challenging to impossible for even the most skilled doctors to complete the procedure. If you are living with difficult intubation, it is imperative that emergency responders and ER doctors are alerted to your condition before engaging in rescue tactics.
This is why you need to wear a MedicAlert medical ID for difficult intubation.
How MedicAlert protects those living with difficult intubation
One thing you shouldn’t worry about is what could happen if there’s an emergency. MedicAlert’s protection plans offer benefits that extend beyond the ID, providing safety and peace of mind for people living with difficult intubation, their families and caregivers.
24/7 Emergency Response
Our team provides first responders the information they need to provide fast, accurate care.
Digital Health Profile
All your vital information, all in one place for you and your caregiver.
Emergency Contact Notification
In an emergency, we connect families so that no one is alone in a crisis.
Share the information that’s important to your care, such as use of rescue medications or contraindication for tests like MRIs.
Pair a medical ID for difficult intubation with the protection plan that’s right for you.
What exactly is difficult intubation?
The American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) defines difficult intubation as “an intubation during which the insertion of the endotracheal tube takes more than 10 min, and/or requires more than three attempts by an experienced anesthesiologist.” Also called difficult airway, the condition also refers to intubation requiring nonstandard equipment or alternative approaches, or the inability to intubate at all.
What causes difficult intubation?
Difficult intubation can be caused by any number of diseases, conditions, anatomic factors, and other problems. According to researchers at Carver College of Medicine at University of Iowa, the following problems, conditions, and anatomic factors can cause difficult intubation:
- Blood, vomit, or secretions in the airway
- High arched palate/narrow palate, firm floor of mouth
- Mallampati score (or Mallampati classification) of 3 or 4, meaning, one cannot see the uvula (teardrop shaped piece of tissue hanging in the back of the throat), when the mouth is open
- Poor cardiopulmonary reserve (the difference between the rate at which a heart pumps blood at a particular time and its maximum capacity for pumping blood)
- Post radiation changes, scarring, large masses
- Prominent incisors, prominent overbite
- Restriction of the range of motion of the jaws (trismus or lockjaw)
- Short neck, thick neck, neck in fixed flexion or poor range of motion
- Shortness of breath (dyspnea) when lying face up
- Small mandible (jaw or jawbone, especially the lower jawbone)
- Snoring/sleep apnea
A number of congenital diseases (present at birth) are associated with difficult intubation. Examples include:
- Down syndrome
- Goldenhar syndrome
- Pierre Robin syndrome
- Treacher Collins syndrome (TCS)
Other diseases and conditions associated with difficult intubation include:
- Acromegaly, overproduction of growth hormone
- Airway infections, Ludwig’s angina
- Ankylosing spondylitis (AS), inflammatory disease that causes the bones in the spine to fuse
- Head, neck, joint, and dental changes in the elderly
- Morbid obesity
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Tumors involving the airway
In the pediatric population, difficult intubation can be caused by:
- Impaired head and neck mobility
- Micrognathia (undersized lower jaw)
- Retrognathia (unusual position of the mandible)
- Mandibuloacral dysplasia (MAD), rare genetic disorder-underdevelopment (hypoplasia) of the mandible and the collarbone (clavicle)
- Macroglossia (abnormal enlargement of the tongue)
- Nasal airway obstruction or craniofacial abnormalities
- Small mouth aperture (area containing the tongue and teeth)
- Airway lesions
- Inflammation of the vocal tract above the larynx (supralaryngeal)
What to engrave on MedicAlert medical IDs for difficult intubation:
MedicAlert offers free custom engraving on all our difficult intubation bracelets and medical ID products. Engravings on medical IDs for difficult intubation should include any critical medical information that can protect and save lives in an accident or medical emergency, for example:
- Difficult intubation
- Designated physician information
- Emergency contact information
Sample engraving. Consult our team if you need help engraving your medical ID for difficult intubation.
What are the symptoms and complications of difficult intubation?
Signs and symptoms of airway distress may be difficult to discern—especially during a medical emergency. This is why people living with difficult intubation should wear a MedicAlert ID. A MedicAlert ID lets first responders and ER doctors know that you are living with difficult intubation so the appropriate steps can be taken quickly to restore breathing and save your life. A person living with difficult intubation may present with the following symptoms:
- Drooling: indicative of laryngeal obstruction
- Hoarseness or loss of voice
- Poor air movement
- Stridor (high-pitched sound when breathing)
- Use of accessory muscles (muscles not primarily used for movement), indicates respiratory distress)
Complications of difficult intubation include:
- Aspiration (something enters the airway or lungs by accident)
- Cardiac arrhythmias
- Cardiovascular instability
- Emergency surgical airway (procedure to secure the airway when intubation fails)
- Esophageal intubation (can result in severe brain damage or even death)
- Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), brain disfunction or injury
- Low levels of oxygen in the body tissues (hypoxia)
If you are experiencing a medical emergency and cannot communicate with first responders, a MedicAlert ID can be your voice. A medical ID for difficult intubation lets first responders and ER doctors know that you are living with the condition so alternative rescue tactics can be used to protect and save your life.
How do you diagnose difficult intubation?
Difficult intubation is usually discovered when first responders, ER doctors, or other doctors attempt to perform the procedure. It is recommended that doctors and surgeons assess for potential airway problems before performing any procedure. This is another way that difficult intubation is discovered. According to the European Journal of Anaesthesiology (EJA), failure to diagnose airway problems before a procedure can lead to operator stress, improvised responses to a difficult situation, late calls for help, and multiple attempts to intubate—all of which can make ventilation or intubation even more difficult.
If you have experienced difficult intubation in the past, it will become a permanent part of your health record. A medical ID for difficult intubation and protection plan can ensure that this information stays with you 24/7.
How do you treat, manage, and live with difficult intubation?
If you are living with difficult intubation, doctors and specialists can attempt to treat the underlying condition or disease, which can make intubation less difficult. For people living with anatomical factors that cannot be treated, the best thing to do is to wear a MedicAlert medical ID to let doctors and other medical professionals know that you are living with difficult intubation.
How medical IDs for difficult intubation combined with MedicAlert Membership provide peace of mind
If you are living with difficult intubation, a MedicAlert medical ID can protect you in an emergency and other medical situations. A MedicAlert medical ID for difficult intubation lets first responders and ER doctors know that you are living with difficult intubation, so precious time won’t be wasted on a procedure that might not work. Knowing that you are living with difficult intubation allows doctors to quickly identify and administer alternatives that could save your life. Add a MedicAlert protection plan, and you will have an additional layer of protection in medical emergencies and other health-related situations.
If you are living with difficult intubation, a MedicAlert protection plan can help ensure accurate and fast care by delivering detailed information about your condition to emergency responders, doctors, and hospital staff. A MedicAlert protection plan can deliver information about alternatives to intubation that may have worked in the past, your full health profile, designated physician’s information, and emergency contact information directly to ER doctors and other healthcare personnel. With a difficult intubation bracelet or other MedicAlert ID and protection plan, you will always have a voice in an emergency.
- We’re your voice: If you can’t speak for yourself due to a medical emergency, your ID will speak for you – informing others about your difficult intubation and any medications you’re taking.
- 24/7 emergency protection: In an emergency, the MedicAlert team will relay all of your critical medical information to first responders, no matter where or when your emergency happens.
- Always connected: You should never be alone in an emergency. That’s why MedicAlert will reach out to your designated contacts if you are unable to do so.
- Live with peace of mind and confidence: MedicAlert will be there for you every step of the way. You’ll have the confidence and freedom to live your life with difficult intubation, knowing we’ve got you covered.
Sources: BioMed Central (BMC) (Part of Springer Nature); Cedars Sinai; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS); Cleveland Clinic; European Journal of Anaesthesiology (EJA); Merriam-Webster; National Institutes of Health (NIH)-National Library of Medicine (NLM)-National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI); University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine.