Prehospital Cricothyrotomy Kits Used in Combat

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    Schauer SG, April MD, Cunningham CW, Long AN, Carter R 17(3). 18 - 20 (Case Reports)

    Background: Surgical cricothyrotomy remains the only definitive airway management modality for the tactical setting recommended by Tactical Combat Casualty Care guidelines. Some units have fielded commercial cricothyrotomy kits to assist Combat Medics with surgical cricothyrotomy. To our knowledge, no previous publications report data on the use of these kits in combat settings. This series reports the the use of two kits in four patients in the prehospital combat setting. Methods: Using the Department of Defense Trauma Registry and the Prehospital Trauma Registry, we identified four cases of patients who underwent prehospital cricothyrotomy with the use of commercial kits. In the first two cases, a Medic successfully used a North American Rescue CricKit (NARCK) to obtain a surgical airway in a Servicemember with multiple amputations from an improvised explosive device explosion. In case 3, the Medic unsuccessfully used an H&H Medical kit to attempt placement of a surgical airway in a Servicemember shot in the head by small arms fire. A second attempt to place a surgical airway using a NARCK was successful. In case 4, a Soldier sustained a gunshot wound to the chest. A Medic described fluid in the airway precluding bag-valve-mask ventilation; the Medic attempted to place a surgical airway with the H&H kit without success. Conclusion: Four cases of prehospital surgical airway cannulation on the battlefield demonstrated three successful uses of prehospital cricothyrotomy kits. Further research should focus on determining which kits may be most useful in the combat setting.

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