Clinical Case Database / Category: Case Based Discussion

Assessment and management of adult acute upper airway obstruction

Publication details

G A Powell, O G J Booth, A L Powell, A K Arya, A C Swift
Foundation Years Journal, volume 4, issue 7, p.21 (123Doc Education, London, July 2010)


A patient presented with acute onset shortness of breath and stridor due to a large tumour of the larynx. The initial assessment, investigation and treatment of patients presenting with acute upper airway obstruction is discussed. Systematic, clear guidance is presented for the physician involved in the management of this often frightening, emergency clinical presentation. Further, specialist ENT interventions relevant to the case report are then discussed in context.

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G A Powell

Foundation Year 1 Doctor
Aintree University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

O G J Booth

Foundation Year 1 Doctor
Aintree University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

A L Powell

Medical Student (4th year)
University of Liverpool

A K Arya

Specialist Registrar Otolaryngology
Head & Neck Surgery
Mersey Deanery

A C Swift

Consultant in Otolaryngology
Head & Neck Surgery and Honorary Senior Lecturer
Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery
Aintree University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
L9 7AL


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2. Scott PV (1995) Nebulised Adrenaline in Adults with Upper Airway Obstruction. Anaesthesia. 50(5):476.
3. McGarvey JM, Pollack CV(2008) Heliox in Airway Management. Emerg Med Clin North Am. 26(4):905–920.
4. Sobin LH, Gospodanowicz MK, Wittekind C (2010) TNM Classification of Metastatic Tumours. 7th Edition. Wiley, John & Sons.
5. Ghosh SK, Roland NJ, Kumar A, et al. (2009) Detection of Synchronous Lung Tumors in Patients Presenting with Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Head and Neck. Head & Neck. 31(12):1563–1570.


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T​he Foundation Years Clinical Cases Database is​ a selection of 600 peer-reviewed clinical cases in the field of patient safety and clinical practice, specifically focused on the clinical information needs of junior doctors, based around the Foundation Year Curriculum programme (MMC). The cases have been chosen to align with the Foundation Year Curriculum.

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