To support seriously ill patients with a breathing machine, doctors must place a breathing tube. One-in-five times doctors cannot place the breathing tube on the first try. When the breathing tube cannot be placed on the first try, the risks to the patient for low oxygen levels or blood pressure are higher. Two types of tools exist for helping see a patients’ vocal cords to place a breathing tube: a device with a camera on it (video laryngoscope) and a device without a camera on it (direct laryngoscope). Whether placing a breathing tube on the first try is easier with a video laryngoscope or a direct laryngoscope is unknown. Among 150 patients receiving a breathing tube in one intensive care unit, the FELLOW trial found that, while a video laryngoscope made it easier to see the vocal cords, using a video laryngoscope did not make it easier to place a breathing tube on the first try compared with using a direct laryngoscope. These findings suggest the need for large, multicenter trials examining whether use of a video laryngoscope can make it easier to place a breathing tube on the first try.
Objective: To evaluate the effect of video laryngoscopy on the rate of endotracheal intubation on first laryngoscopy attempt among critically ill adults.
Design: A randomized, parallel-group, pragmatic trial of video compared with direct laryngoscopy for 150 adults undergoing endotracheal intubation by Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine fellows.
Setting: Medical ICU in a tertiary, academic medical center.
Patients: Critically ill patients 18 years old or older.
Interventions: Patients were randomized 1:1 to video or direct laryngoscopy for the first attempt at endotracheal intubation.
Measurements and main results: Patients assigned to video (n = 74) and direct (n = 76) laryngoscopy were similar at baseline. Despite better glottic visualization with video laryngoscopy, there was no difference in the primary outcome of intubation on the first laryngoscopy attempt (video 68.9% vs direct 65.8%; p = 0.68) in unadjusted analyses or after adjustment for the operator’s previous experience with the assigned device (odds ratio for video laryngoscopy on intubation on first attempt 2.02; 95% CI, 0.82-5.02, p = 0.12). Secondary outcomes of time to intubation, lowest arterial oxygen saturation, complications, and in-hospital mortality were not different between video and direct laryngoscopy.
Conclusions: In critically ill adults undergoing endotracheal intubation, video laryngoscopy improves glottic visualization but does not appear to increase procedural success or decrease complications.
Manuscript Title: “Randomized Trial of Video Laryngoscopy for Endotracheal Intubation of Critically Ill Adults.”
Journal: Critical Care Medicine