Get access

A discussion of airway and respiratory complications along with general considerations in obese patients


  • Disclosures None.

A. T. Harris, Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS, Calderdale, UK
Tel.: 01422 22 2322
Fax: 01422 22 3900


Obesity is defined as the degree of excess weight associated with adverse health consequences. Within Great Britain, it is reported that a quarter of men and women are obese; these rates have trebled over the past 20 years. In 2001, it was estimated that obesity cost the National Health Service at least half a billion pounds, with a further two billion pounds lost on lower productivity and lost output. Obesity poses a significant risk factor for diseases, such as coronary heart disease, diabetes mellitus and certain forms of cancer, amongst others. Obese individuals pose significant problems to the clinician because of airway and respiratory complications. Sleep apnoea, obesity-hypoventilation syndrome, pulmonary atelectasis are associated with obesity and tracheostomy insertion is made all the more difficult in these patients. This article aims to discuss some of these issues relevant to the clinician and examine present strategies for dealing with them.