An algorithm on the indications and timing for a surgical airway in emergency as such cannot be drawn due to the multiplicity of variables and the inapplicability in the context of life-threatening critical emergency, where human brain elaborates decisions better in cluster rather than in binary fashion. In particular, in emergency or urgent scenarios, there is no clear or established consensus as to specifically who should receive a tracheostomy as a life-saving procedure; and more importantly, when. The two classical indications for emergency tracheostomy (laryngeal injury and failure to secure airway with endotracheal intubation or cricothyroidotomy) are too generic and encompass a broad spectrum of possibilities. In literature, specific indications for emergency tracheostomy are scattered and are biased, partially comprehensive, not clearly described or not homogeneously gathered. The review highlights the indications and timing for an emergency surgical airway and gives recommendations on which surgical airway method to use in critical airway.
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