Adverse respiratory events are among the most common critical perioperative events in pediatric anesthesia. Proficient management of the pediatric airway requires thorough understanding of its unique anatomical and physiological characteristics (Acta Anaesthesiol Scand 2009;53:1-9; Paediatr Anaesth 2012;22:1008-15; Int J Crit Illn Inj Sci 2014;4:65-70). These differences are most recognizable in infants, toddlers, and young children. The proportionally large head and tongue, restricted submandibular space, high larynx, and a floppy epiglottis present special challenges to airway management. Physiologically, high metabolic demand and low oxygen reserves shorten the time to significant hypoxemia during periods of apnea and laryngospasm. Resistance to airflow through small airways is high, and even the slightest decrease in radius from secretions or inflammation can increase airway pressures manyfold, resulting in acute respiratory compromise.

Covering the full spectrum of pediatric airway management is outside the purview of this concise review. We will instead focus on...

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