Emergent cricothyroidotomies for trauma: Training considerations

David R. King*, Michael P. Ogilvie, George Velmahos, Hasan B. Alam, Marc A. DeMoya, Susan R. Wilcox, Ali Y. Mejaddam, Gwendolyn M. Van Der Wilden, Oscar A. Birkhan, Karim Fikry

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Background: Emergent cricothyroidotomy remains an uncommon, but life-saving, core procedural training requirement for emergency medicine (EM) physician training. We hypothesized that although most cricothyroidotomies for trauma occur in the emergency department (ED), they are usually performed by surgeons. Methods: We conducted a retrospective analysis of all emergent cricothyroidotomies for trauma presentations performed at 2 large level I trauma centers over 10 years. Operators and assistants for all procedures were identified, as well as mechanism of injury and patient demographics were examined. Results: Fifty-four cricothyroidotomies were analyzed. Patients had a mean age of 50 years, 80% were male, and 90% presented as a result of blunt trauma. The most common primary operator was a surgeon (n = 47, 87%), followed by an emergency medical services (EMS) provider (n = 6, 11%) and an EM physician (n = 1, 2%). In all cases, except those performed by EMS, the operator or assistant was an attending surgeon. All EMS procedures resulted in serious complications compared with in-hospital procedures (P < .0001). Conclusions: (1) Prehospital cricothyroidotomy results in serious complications. (2) Despite the ubiquitous presence of EM physicians in the ED, all cricothyroidotomies were performed by a surgeon, which may present opportunities for training improvement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1429-1432
Number of pages4
JournalAmerican Journal of Emergency Medicine
Issue number8
StatePublished - Oct 2012
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


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