Question 7

Compare and contrast the anatomy of the upper airway of a term newborn with that of an adult.

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College Answer

Good answers to this question directly compared the anatomical differences using two
columns: one for the newborn and the other for the adult airway. They further divided the
differences anatomically into mouth/naso and oro pharynx, the glottis (and epiglottis), the
larynx, and the trachea (main carina and main bronchi).
Common omissions were failure to mention that neonates do not have dentition, have more
compliant tissues and reduced muscle tone, that the neonates’ larynx lies more cephalad and
anteriorly, is covered by a large floppy epiglottis and that the main carina also lies more
Few candidates were able to list more than 4 differences between the anatomy of the two
airways and none mentioned the possibility of disease affecting the neck in the adult.
Syllabus – P2e
Reference: Anatomy for anaesthetists and T K Oh Chp95, Anatomy at a glance.