Clinically Relevant Anatomy to Elevate Your Airway Practice
A progressive identification of anatomic landmarks is a key part of successful laryngoscopy. Let’s review those anatomic structures. Discover them here.
Online Learning Space
Enhanced Digital Content
Use this learning space in two ways. As an online course, scroll down and enter the online learning space. Explore each section below, or use the navigation tool to go directly to the content you’re interested in. Then, use this enhanced digital content in one of our pop-up physical spaces for hands-on procedure training, skills challenges, and expert coaching.
your north star
Diving too deep too quickly into the oropharynx with your laryngoscope (what we call the “plunge & pray” technique) makes finding your way harder. One way to avoid this is to ensure you see the uvula first. The uvula can be your North Star and point you in the direction of the epiglottis.
the cornerstone of laryngoscopy
The epiglottis is considered the cornerstone of landmark identification during laryngoscopy. So much so, that it was nicknamed “epiglottoscopy” to highlight the importance of the epiglottis as an anatomic landmark. This is because once the epiglottis is identified, the intubator can be assured that the larynx (and the trachea beyond it) are nearby: located just posterior and inferior. .
the key to laryngeal exposure
Once the epiglottis is identified, seating the blade in the vallecula (the anatomic groove above the epiglottis) and engaging the hyoepiglottic ligament will give usually give you great laryngeal exposure
In this video by AIME Airway, you can see how an incremental and deliberate movement around the base of the tongue into the valeculla helps “lift” the epiglottis to expose the larynx.
Here is an example of what seating your blade in the valeculla and engaging the hyo-epiglottic ligament can do for your laryngeal view, and it highlights the important of this anatomic structure.
If you notice we have not even mentioned the vocal cords as a key anatomic landmark. Instead, we’ve highlighted the anatomic structures that will help you find them.
If there is one pearl we want to you to take from this anatomy lesson, it’s to look for the structures above first, and the view below will happen more easily and more often.
If there is one pearl we want you to take from this anatomy lesson, it’s to look for the structures above first, and the view below will happen more easily and more often. If you see the epiglottis above & the posterior arytenoids below, you know the vocal cords are between them, with the trachea beyond them.
Keep yourself on track and get credit for completion using this guide.
- Open the guide to a tab on your browser.
- Visit each poster & review the content.
- Complete any challenges to earn points.
Congratulations! You’ve completed this section of the learning space. Collect all the available points before moving on to the next poster to explore all the interactive and hands-on learning opportunities.
If you can’t be with us in person, you can still use this enhanced digital content as an online course. Visit the digital home page of this learning space by using the link below. Otherwise, head to the next poster above to continue through the physical learning space.