Acquired abnormalities in pediatric airways can be subdivided into acute and chronic. Acute obstruction can result from foreign-body aspiration, infection such as laryngotracheobronchitis or epiglottitis, subglottic edema secondary to previous intubation or allergy, or internal or external airway trauma. Chronic obstruction can result from subglottic stenosis (posttraumatic or postsurgical), tumor, or abscess formation.
The management of an infant or child with airway obstruction depends on utilization of a safe, calculated approach to securing the airway. Such an approach requires a systematic evaluation of the pediatric airway, familiarity with pediatric airway equipment and pharmacologic agents, and recognition of a difficult airway and its appropriate management.
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