Effect of head elevation on passive upper airway collapsibility in normal subjects during propofol anesthesia

Masato Kobayashi, Takao Ayuse, Yuko Hoshino, Shinji Kurata, Shunji Moromugi, Hartmut Schneider, Jason P. Kirkness, Alan R. Schwartz, Kumiko Oi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Background: Head elevation can restore airway patency during anesthesia, although its effect may be offset by concomitant bite opening or accidental neck flexion. The aim of this study is to examine the effect of head elevation on the passive upper airway collapsibility during propofol anesthesia. Methods: Twenty male subjects were studied, randomized to one of two experimental groups: fixed-jaw or free-jaw. Propofol infusion was used for induction and to maintain blood at a constant target concentration between 1.5 and 2.0 μg/ml. Nasal mask pressure (PN) was intermittently reduced to evaluate the upper airway collapsibility (passive PCRIT) and upstream resistance (RUS) at each level of head elevation (0, 3, 6, and 9 cm). The authors measured the Frankfort plane (head flexion) and the mandible plane (jaw opening) angles at each level of head elevation. Analysis of variance was used to determine the effect of head elevation on PCRIT, head flexion, and jaw opening within each group. Results: In both groups the Frankfort plane and mandible plane angles increased with head elevation (P < 0.05), although the mandible plane angle was smaller in the free-jaw group (i.e., increased jaw opening). In the fixed-jaw group, head elevation decreased upper airway collapsibility (PCRIT ∼ -7 cm H 2O at greater than 6 cm elevation) compared with the baseline position (PCRIT ∼ -3 cm H2O at 0 cm elevation; P < 0.05). Conclusion: Elevating the head position by 6 cm while ensuring mouth closure (centric occlusion) produces substantial decreases in upper airway collapsibility and maintains upper airway patency during anesthesia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)273-281
Number of pages9
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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