The Difficult Airway Society is a UK-based medical specialist society formed to further management of the airway of patients by anaesthetists and other critical care practitioners.
It developed from the interest of a number of anaesthetists who met at a fibreoptic intubation meetings held at Guy’s Hospital, London once or twice a year from 1987. The first of these was organised by Dr Ray Towey to promote the role and use of fibreoptic intubation in management of the difficult airway. He had published work on fibreoptic intubation in 1972 and later joined the staff of Guy’s Hospital in central London, UK as a Consultant Anaesthetist. The regular meetings established the principles of care and cleaning of the fibrescope and its use in the awake and anaesthetised patient. A complete set of educational booklets from each meeting has been maintained.
The transition from a fibreoptic intubation meeting to a broader difficult airway meeting occurred in 1995 stimulated particularly by a chance meeting between Dr Adrian Pearce and Dr Ralph Vaughan on a plane from Edinburgh to London. These two were prominent in the development and running of airway management courses at Guy’s Hospital in London and University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff respectively. The many core attendees at the fibreoptic intubation meetings stimulated the development of a more formal airway management society.
The first meeting of the new Difficult Airway Society was a two-day scientific meeting of about 100 delegates on Thursday 30th November and Friday 1st December 1995 in the Tower Lecture Theatre, Guy’s Hospital. Interim Rules were established at the first meeting and the Constitution approved at the second meeting in 1996. A minor amendment to the Constitution was made in order for the Society to meet the criteria of the Charity Commission and charitable status 1071732 was gained on 28th September 1998.
The Society has held annual meetings since 1995 mainly in the UK with a 10th anniversary meeting in Lille, France and the 2006 meeting in Dublin, Eire. Meetings are typically an initial day of workshops followed by two days of scientific presentations. Attendance has grown from about 100 at the early meetings to 500-600 delegates. The Society has grown substantially and now has over 3500 members to become the second largest anaesthetic specialist society in the UK. Full details about the Society can be found on its website
Adrian Pearce 2010