When is intubation indicated in cases of epiglottitis?

Updated: Apr 28, 2020
  • Author: Sandra G Gompf, MD, FACP, FIDSA; Chief Editor: Jeter (Jay) Pritchard Taylor, III, MD  more...
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Signs and symptoms associated with a need for intubation include respiratory distress, airway compromise on examination, stridor, inability to swallow, drooling, sitting erect, and deterioration within 8-12 hours. Enlarged epiglottis (thumb sign) on radiographs is associated with airway obstruction. When in doubt, securing the airway is likely the safest approach.

Blood cultures may be taken, particularly if the patient is systemically unwell. The cultures are positive in approximately 25% of adult cases. If the airway is secure, epiglottic cultures may be performed.

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