Laryngospasm is a reflex that may occur in the perioperative period when one or more risk factors are present.


Laryngospasm is more likely to occur when the patient is under light anesthesia.


Stimuli that may trigger laryngospasm:

(1) placement of an oropharyngeal or nasopharyngeal airway

(2) removal of an endotracheal tube

(3) airway exposure to irritating liquid (vomitus, blood, etc)

(4) airway exposure to an irritating anesthetic gas

(5) following a manipulation or placement of a foreign body in the airway such as laryngoscopy

(6) a painful stimulus

(7) peritoneal traction (a form of vagal stimulation)

(8) stimulation of the superior laryngeal or vagus nerve (the superior laryngeal nerve is a branch of the vagus nerve)


If the patient has a tracheostomy or an endotracheal tube in place then the airway will stay open. If neither is present then the patient is at risk for partial or complete airway obstruction.


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