A big brain saves a little one
Something I’ve been teaching for years – but never actually done – has been described in a case report from Oman.
A 2 year old child suffered a respiratory arrest due to an inhaled foreign body, which led to a bradyasystolic cardiac arrest. She was intubated by the resuscitation team who could not achieve any ventilation through the tube. The tube was removed and reinserted by an ‘expert’ (there is no mention of capnometry, for what it’s worth) and the same problem persisted.
The life-saving manouevre was to insert the tracheal tube further down into the right main bronchus and then withdraw to the trachea. This forced the obstructing object distally so that one-lung ventilation was then possible, resulting in return of spontaneous circulation and oxygen saturations in the mid-80’s. The object – a broken piece of plastic – was removed bronchoscopically and happily the child made an uneventful recovery.
Is this technique in your list of life-saving tricks? Hopefully, it is now.
A child is alive because a doctor was able to ‘think outside the guidelines’ in an incredibly high pressure situation. Rigid adherence to ACLS procedures here would have been futile. The guidelines save lives, but a few more can be saved when care can be individualised to the clinical situation by a thinking clinician.
Well done Dr Mishra and colleagues.
Sudden near-fatal tracheal aspiration of an undiagnosed nasal foreign body in a small child
Emerg Med Australas. 2011 Dec;23(6):776-8
[And here’s something else to consider if you have no airway equipment with you and your basic choking algorithm isn’t working]