Airway management of trauma patients may take place in a variety of settings including a designated resuscitation area, emergency room (ER), operating room (OR), intensive care unit (ICU), computed tomography (CT) suite, or prehospital setting. Although the mechanism or severity of injury may be unpredictable, the control of the airway in these patients is a skill in which one must feel comfortable and remain in control, regardless of the situation confronted or physical setting. The majority of tools and algorithms used for the trauma airway are similar to those used in a non-emergency scenario, but with some modifications. One should always be well equipped, be familiar with available devices, and be able to adapt to rapidly evolving situations. An essential difference between the trauma airway and the non-emergency setting is that awakening the severely injured patient after a failed asleep intubation (or canceling the procedure) is rarely, if ever, an option. Airway The Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS) course developed by the Committee on Trauma of the American College of Surgeons helps physicians maximize their resuscitative efforts, and avoid missing life-threatening injuries, by using an organized approach to trauma care. The course includes guidelines for initial airway and ventilatory management and instructs clinicians on how to recognize common pitfalls in the care of trauma patients (see Chapter 2).
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