Incorporating airway examination photography into the electronic record

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.21454/rjaic.7518.241.sap

Joshua W. Sappenfield, Nik Gravenstein, Judith M. Wishin, Chukwudi Obiora Chiaghana, David Smyth, Brenda G. Fahy, Terrie Vasilopoulos, Laurie Davies, F. Kayser Enneking

Department of Anesthesiology, University of Florida College of Medicine, Gainesville, FL, USA


Background. Photography of the airway has been used in research to validate preoperative airway assessment and the likelihood of identifying the difficult-to-mask ventilate and/or intubate patient. Up till now, no study has demonstrated the perceived utility of incorporation of airway photographs into the anesthesia preassessment.

Methods. The University of Florida Health Presurgical Clinic routinely incorporates three photographs of all adult patients during their preanesthesia visit. The first is a head-on view of the patient opening the mouth widely as part of a Mallampati examination, and the second and third are side views of the patient prognathing and with the neck in maximal extension, respectively. After IRB approval, providers of anesthesia were surveyed regarding their opinions on the perceived value of the new process. Chi-square tests were used to determine if the responses to each question significantly differed from the distribution that would be predicted by chance. P < 0.05 was considered statistically significant.

Results. The survey was emailed to 180 individuals, with 145 responding. The responses significantly (P < 0.0001) indicated that the photographs helped the providers plan care for their patients and improved their satisfaction with the preoperative assessment. Technical and educational barriers were overcome using iterative Plan-Do-Study-Act cycles and coaching, respectively.

Conclusions. Photographs of the airway assessment can successfully be taken and incorporated into an electronic medical record in a busy presurgical clinic. The pictures provide additional perceived value to the traditional written assessment of a patient’s airway examination by someone else.

Keywords: airway, electronic medical record, airway photography