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Laryngospasm describes a firm muscular closure of the laryngeal cords. Airflow to the lungs is impeded.

Common causes include allergic reactions such as angioneurotic oedema, foreign bodies, and infection e.g. epiglotitis. Children are especially prone to laryngospasm: this is reduced if irritant drugs are avoided and adequate premedication is given.

Treament involves:

  • perioperatively: paralysis of patient, intubation and ventilation with 100% oxygen
  • in the emergency situation with severely compromised breathing, intubation or cricothyroidotomy may be required
  • if a foreign body is suspected, the Heimlich manoeuvre may be attempted