Emergency airway puncture


Emergency airway puncture is the placement of a hollow needle through the throat into the airway. It is done to treat life-threatening choking.

Alternative Names

Needle cricothyrotomy


Emergency airway puncture is done in an emergency situation, when someone is choking and all other efforts to assist with breathing have failed.

Why the Procedure Is Performed

A cricothyrotomy is an emergency procedure to relieve an airway obstruction until surgery can be done to place a breathing tube (tracheostomy).


Risks for this procedure include:

Risks for any surgery are:

Outlook (Prognosis)

How well the person does depends on the cause of the airway blockage and how quickly the person receives proper breathing support.

See: Tracheostomy


Hebert RB, Bose S, Mace SE. Cricothyrotomy and transtracheal jet ventilation. In: Roberts JR, Hedges JR, eds. Clinical Procedures in Emergency Medicine. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2009:chap 6.

Thomas SH, Brown DFM. Foreign bodies. In: Marx J, ed. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2009: chap 57.

Review Date: 7/16/2011
Reviewed By: Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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