Journal Article "Cannot ventilate, cannot intubate" situation after penetration of the tongue root through to the epipharynx by a surfboard: a case report

Ono, Yuko  ,  Kunii, Miha  ,  Miura, Tomohiro  ,  Shinohara, Kazuaki

11 ( 1 )  , p.121 , 2017-05-01 , BioMed Central
BACKGROUND: Surfing is an increasingly popular activity and surfing-related injuries have increased accordingly. However, to the best of our knowledge, there are no reports of penetrating upper airway injuries in surfers. We present a "cannot ventilate, cannot intubate" situation following penetrating neck injury by a surfboard fin. CASE PRESENTATION: A previously healthy 29-year-old Japanese man was swept off his board by a large wave and his left mandible, tongue root, and right epipharynx were penetrated by the surfboard fin. He presented with severe hypovolemic shock because of copious bleeding from his mouth. Direct laryngoscopy failed, as did manual ventilation, because of the exacerbated upper airway bleeding and distorted upper airway anatomy. Open cricothyrotomy was immediately performed, followed by surgical exploration, which revealed extensive ablation of his tongue root and laceration of his lingual artery. After definitive hemostasis and intensive care, he returned home with no sequelae. CONCLUSIONS: The long, semi-sharp surfboard fin created both extensive crushing upper airway lesions and a sharp vascular injury, resulting in a difficult airway. This case illustrates that surfing injuries can prompt a life-threatening airway emergency and serves as a caution for both surfers and health care professionals.

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