Obesity distorts airways and slightly complicates intubations in adults, but whether obesity complicates pediatric intubations remains unclear. We, therefore, tested the primary hypothesis that increasing age- and sex-specific body mass index (BMI) percentile is associated with difficult intubation, defined as >1 intubation attempt.
We conducted a retrospective analysis of pediatric patients between 2 and 18 years of age who had noncardiac surgery with oral endotracheal intubation. We assessed the association between BMI percentile and difficult intubation, defined as >1 intubation attempt, using a confounder-adjusted multivariable logistic regression model. Secondarily, we assessed whether the main association depended on preoperative substantial airway abnormality status or age group.
A total of 9339 patients were included in the analysis. Median [quartiles] age- and sex-specific BMI percentile was 70 [33, 93], and 492 (5.3%) patients had difficult intubation. There was no apparent association between age- and sex-specific BMI percentile and difficult intubation. The estimated odds ratio (OR) for having difficult intubation for a 10-unit increase in BMI percentile was 0.98 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.95–1.005) and was consistent across the 3 age groups of early childhood, middle childhood, and early adolescence (interaction P = .53). Patients with preoperative substantial airway abnormalities had lower odds of difficult intubation per 10-unit increase in BMI percentile, with OR (95% CI) of 0.83 (0.70–0.98), P = .01.
Age- and sex-specific BMI percentile was not associated with difficult intubation in children between 2 and 18 years of age. As in adults, obesity in children does not much complicate intubation.