Concepts of Prehospital Advanced Airway Management in the Operational K9: A Focus on Cricothyrotomy


Palmer LE 19(1). 99 - 106 (Journal Article)

Similar to people, airway obstruction is a potentially preventable cause of combat and line of duty death for civilian law enforcement Operational K9s (OpK9) and military working dogs (MWD). Basic (i.e., body positioning, manual maneuvers, bag-valve-mask ventilation) and advanced (i.e., endotracheal intubation, surgical airways) airway techniques are designed to establish a patent airway, oxygenate and ventilate, and protect from aspiration. A surgical airway (cricothyrotomy [CTT] or tracheostomy [TT]) is warranted for difficult airway scenarios in which less invasive means fail to open an airway (aka "Cannot intubate, cannot oxygenate"). In people, the surgical CTT is the preferred surgical airway procedure; most human prehospital providers are not even trained on the TT. Currently, only the TT is described in the veterinary literature as an emergent surgical airway for MWDs. This article describes the novel approach of instituting the surgical CTT for managing the canine difficult airway. The information provided is applicable to personnel operating within the US Special Operations Command as well as civilian tactical emergency medical services that may have the responsibility of providing medical care to an OpK9 or MWD.

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