Category: Resus

Emergency Tracheostomy/Laryngectomy Management

Occasionally patients with Tracheostomy or Laryngectomy present with difficulty breathing due to problem. As this is rare for us in ED, this situation can be very difficult for all of us. However the protocols below can help.



Tracheostomy is simply a passage from the neck into the trachea. In most cases the trachea will still be connected to the nose and mouth (so can breath though their mouth too).

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COVID-19 (Paediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome)

AKA: Paediatric Inflammatory Multi-system Syndrome – Temporally associated with SARS-CoV 2 

Although COVID-19 seems a benign disease in almost all children there are increasing evidence (however rare) of a “Paediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome”. This is a RARE and newly emerging condition and there are many questions still e.g. It is currently unclear if it is directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Case definition (RCPCH)

  1. A child presenting with persistent fever, inflammation (neutrophilia, elevated CRP and lymphopaenia) and evidence of single or multi-organ dysfunction (shock, cardiac, respiratory, renal, gastrointestinal or neurological disorder). This may include children fulfilling full or partial criteria for Kawasaki disease. 
  2. Exclusion of any other microbial cause, including bacterial sepsis, staphylococcal or streptococcal shock syndromes, infections associated with myocarditis such as enterovirus (waiting for results of these investigations should not delay seeking expert advice).
  3. SARS-CoV-2 PCR testing may be positive or negative

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COVID-19 (Awake Self-Proning)

There is increasing evidence that Awake Self-Proning of our Covid-19 patients can improve oxygenation. Proning the patient can has several effects which can dramatically improve their SaO2

  • Improves Ventilation to back of the lung (the back of the lung contains more alveoli than the anterior lung)
  • Improves Perfusion – as blood supply to the back of the lung is always better than the front
  • Improves Clearance of secretions

Contraindications (all seem obvious)

Absolute contraindications:

  • Respiratory distress (RR ≥ 35, PaCO2 ≥ 6.5, accessory muscle use) 
  • Immediate need for intubation 
  • Haemodynamic instability (SBP < 90mmHg) or arrhythmia 
  • Agitation or altered mental status 
  • Unstable spine/thoracic injury/recent abdominal surgery 

Relative Contraindications: 

  • Facial injury 
  • Neurological issues (e.g. frequent seizures) 
  • Morbid obesity 
  • Pregnancy (2/3rd trimesters) 
  • Pressure sores / ulcers 


COVID-19 (Respiratory Flow Chart)

As we know COVID-19 is putting an incredible burden on resources, especially for higher level respiratory support. It is important to target those resourses in the most effect way, hence the development of the “Respiratory Flow Chart”


CPAP/NIVAcute FloorRespiratory Floor
Oxygen ONLY (FOR Escalation)Acute FloorRespiratory/Acute Floor
Oxygen ONLY (NOT FOR Escalation)Acute Floor/Ward 17Respiratory/Acute Floor/Ward 6CD
PalliativeWard 6Ward 6AB

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Deteriorating Patients

  • Early senior decision making around DNACPR, is vital for both staff, patients, and families.
  • Document decsion making and communications clearly
  • There will be regular updates in “handover” about ICU admission criteria – as these may change over time

CPR (Aerosol Generation Procedure)

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COVID-19 (X-Ray learning resource)

British Society of Thoracic Imaging (BSTI) have released a free learning resource containing CXR and CT of confirmed Covid-19 cases, will short history including time image was taken from onset of symptoms.

From the China experience CXR/CT doesn’t seem to be a rule out strategy in ED at the moment – However, its a useful resource to help recognition of Covid-19 CXR’s

BSTI Covid-19 image bank


NIV (Non Invasive Ventilation)

NIV should be considered for use in patients with a  persisting Acute Hypercapnic Respiratory Failures after a maximum of one hour of standard medical therapy.

However, ICU should be contacted early if the patient has one of the following:

  • Asthma – Intubation the option of choice in Life threatening
  • Pneumonia – NIV should only be considered as a bridge to intubation
  • No pre-exisiting respiratory issue – NIV not likely helpful
  • pH <7.25 (low threshold for ICU input)
  • pCO2 >6.5kPa (low threshold for ICU input)
  • Type 1 Respiratory Failure (low threshold for ICU input)

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