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Classic Assessment Tools & Mnemonics

A nextgen learning spaced designed to elevate your airway practice


Can you predict difficulty? We get into this murky topic later, but for now, we want to give you some quick assessment tools in easy mnemonic form so that you can start to apply them at the bedside for your next airway. Remembering these is helpful but we suggest that as you review them you start to notice the patterns and themes that run through each for what makes an airway “difficult” since at the end of the day this is really what really matters, being able to identify the difficult BEFORE it happens to you unexpectedly.

Getting started is as easy as scrolling down. Or go directly to the content that interests you with the navigation bar here. 👇

MallampatiDifficult to BagDifficult to Intubate
Difficult SupraglotticDifficult FONAMy Lumps


The Mallampati score is one of the most well known of the assessment tools. It’s a fairly intuitive: the less you can see of the back of the throat, the more likely that the mouth opening is smaller, and the tongue is bigger, creating less room to work, and making intubation harder. Remember this only works on co-operative patients. Don’t try this on your agitated or obtunded patients!

Difficult BVM = BONES

What are the characteristics or elements that may make someone difficult to bag (ie perform face mask ventilation with a BVM)? Review them here.

difficult to intubate = lemon

Is your patient potentially difficult to intubate? The LEMON mnemonic can help you decide.

Wondering what the 3-3-2 rule is, or want to dive into the details of the LEMON mnemonic a little more? Check out this video here




No discussion of the FONA assessment would be complete without the greatest performance of FONA anatomy palpation of all time. Truly a GOAT!. Follow the @sangrialovingairwaydoc for a another great social network learning builder.

Congratulations on completing this learning space! You could stop here, but why would you want to? Look for more Anatomically Difficult Airway (ADA) learning spaces and add another bundle of concepts, tools, and skills your airway tool box 🧰

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