Definition of the Difficult Airway

A standard definition of the difficult airway cannot be identified in the available literature.


A difficult airway is defined as the clinical situation in which a conventionally trained physician experiences:

difficulty with face mask ventilation,

difficulty with tracheal intubation, or both.

The difficult airway represents a complex interaction between patient factors, the clinical setting, and the skills of the practitioner.


Suggested descriptions include (but are not limited to):
difficult face mask ventilation
difficult laryngoscopy
difficult tracheal intubation

failed intubation