Dexmedetomidine for an awake fiber-optic intubation of a parturient with Klippel-Feil syndrome, Type I Arnold Chiari malformation and status post released tethered spinal cord presenting for repeat cesarean section

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Tanmay H. Shah
Manasi S. Badve
Kowe O. Olajide
Havyn M. Skorupan
Jonathan H. Waters
Manuel C. Vallejo *
(*) Corresponding Author:
Manuel C. Vallejo |


Patients with Klippel-Feil Syndrome (KFS) have congenital fusion of their cervical vertebrae due to a failure in the normal segmentation of the cervical vertebrae during the early weeks of gestation and also have myriad of other associated anomalies. Because of limited neck mobility, airway management in these patients can be a challenge for the anesthesiologist. We describe a unique case in which a dexmedetomidine infusion was used as sedation for an awake fiber-optic intubation in a parturient with Klippel-Feil Syndrome, who presented for elective cesarean delivery. A 36-yearold female, G2P1A0 with KFS (fusion of cervical vertebrae) who had prior cesarean section for breech presentation with difficult airway management was scheduled for repeat cesarean delivery. After obtaining an informed consent, patient was taken in the operating room and non-invasive monitors were applied. Dexmedetomidine infusion was started and after adequate sedation, an awake fiberoptic intubation was performed. General anesthetic was administered after intubation and dexmedetomidine infusion was continued on maintenance dose until extubation. Klippel-Feil Syndrome (KFS) is a rare congenital disorder for which the true incidence is unknown, which makes it even rare to see a parturient with this disease. Patients with KFS usually have other congenital abnormalities as well, sometimes including the whole thoraco-lumbar spine (Type III) precluding the use of neuraxial anesthesia for these patients. Obstetric patients with KFS can present unique challenges in administering anesthesia and analgesia, primarily as it relates to the airway and dexmedetomidine infusion has shown promising result to manage the airway through awake fiberoptic intubation without any adverse effects on mother and fetus.

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