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Endotracheal Intubation at 3,600 Meters Above Sea Level for High-Altitude Pulmonary Edema Followed by Helicopter Evacuation in Nepal

Published:December 08, 2022DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amj.2022.11.001

      Abstract

      Ranging from 64 to 8848 m above sea level, Nepal is a country rich in hilly and mountainous terrain.

      Nepal. Water environment partnership in Asia. Available at: http://www.wepa-db.net/policies/state/nepal/overview.htm#:∼:text=The%20altitude%20ranges%20from%20a,Mt. Accessed April 5, 2022.

      24.8% of Nepal's land area is above 3000 m, 18.9% is between 3000 and 5000 m, and 5.9% is above 5000 m.
      • Chidi CL.
      Human settlements in high altitude region Nepal.
      Hikers and trekkers are increasingly attracted to this challenging altitude and terrain, which presents risks for altitude sickness and other physical complications. Responding to medical emergencies in high-altitude areas in Nepal is highly challenging. This difficulty is often exacerbated by inclement weather, unavailability of helicopters, and poor communication regarding the location and condition of patients requiring medical attention and evacuation. High-altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE) is an illness characterized by non-cardiogenic pulmonary edema, which occurs not infrequently in individuals who rapidly ascend above 2500–3000 m in elevation,
      • Paralikar SJ.
      High altitude pulmonary edema-clinical features, pathophysiology, prevention and treatment.
      and which has a high mortality rate if not treated in a timely manner. Improved outcomes would be likely if skilled and equipped medical staff had better access to the sites of high-altitude expeditions in Nepal, so that life-saving interventions could be performed promptly. We report the case of a patient with HAPE who was intubated in the field at an altitude of 3600 m, and then evacuated via helicopter to a healthcare facility.
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