Who Is Mallampati?

Dr. S. Rao Mallampati is an anesthesiologist well known for creating one of the most widely accepted pre-operative airway assessments in clinical practice. His original paper correlates the “ability to visualize the faucial pillars, soft palate and base of uvula… as a means of predicting the degree of difficulty in laryngeal exposure.”

Since its original conception in 1983 and later implementation in 1985, the Mallampati classification has received much criticism regarding its clinical reliability and utility in comparison to other metrics like a patient’s thyromental distance and neck range of motion.

Mallampati classification (Image: ResearchGate)
Mallampati classification (Image: ResearchGate)

In any case, Mallampati’s classification is very easy to teach and still serves as a cornerstone for the modern airway exam. We’re more inclined to discuss “difficult airway” scenarios in patients with class III or IV airways, and for this reason alone, the system still has its merits.

Dr. Mallampati is also affiliated with the Harvard Medical School system. Maybe I’ll get to meet him next year! 🙂

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    • Oh I agree, it’s just that the Cormack-Lehane system actually requires laryngoscopy to be attempted before assigning a grade whereas Mallampati scoring is given before any airway instrumentation.


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