Pediatric Prehospital Airway Management by U.S. Forces in Iraq and Afghanistan

Elizabeth A. Koslow, Matthew A. Borgman, Michael D. April, Steven G. Schauer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Introduction Airway obstruction is a treatable cause of potentially preventable death on the battlefield. Emergency cricothyrotomies are rarely performed in developed countries, but are a common prehospital procedure in recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. We describe prehospital airway interventions performed on pediatric casualties with a focus on cricothyrotomy during these recent conflicts. Materials and Methods This is a secondary analysis of previously published dataset from the Department of Defense Trauma Registry for pediatric encounters from January 2007 to January 2017. Within our dataset we searched for all instances of airway interventions in the prehospital setting. Results During this time, there were 3,439 pediatric casualties in the registry with a total of 18 prehospital cricothyrotomies and 211 prehospital intubations. For cricothyrotomies, the median age was 10 years, most (72.2%) were male, median composite injury score was 25, most were injured by explosive (44.4%), more commonly located in Afghanistan (77.8%), and approximately half survived to hospital discharge (44.4%). The head was most frequently injured (44.4%). Of those undergoing endotracheal intubation, the median age was 10 years, most (75.8%) were male, median injury score was 17, most were injured by explosives (53.5%), most were in Afghanistan (85.7%), and most survived to hospital discharge (66.8%). The head/neck most frequently had a serious injury (56.8%). Conclusions In this dataset, 6.8% of children underwent prehospital intubation and 0.5% underwent prehospital cricothyrotomy. Airway interventions were frequently associated with head injuries. This highlights the importance of training and equipping prehospital medical personnel for pediatric trauma care in accordance with military clinical practice guidelines.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E1435-E1439
JournalMilitary medicine
Issue number9-10
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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