All patients must have an assessment made of their airway, the aim being to try and predict those patients who may be difficult to intubate.
Observation of the patient’s anatomy
Finding any of these suggests that intubation may be more difficult. However, it must be remembered that all of these are subjective.
Simple bedside tests
None of these tests, alone or in combination, predicts all difficult intubations. A Mallampati grade III or IV with a thyromental distance of <7cm predicts 80% of difficult intubations. If problems are anticipated, anaesthesia should be planned accordingly.
If intubation proves to be difficult, it must be recorded in a prominent place in the patient’s notes and the patient informed.