Lightwand-Assisted Intubation of Patients in the Lateral Decubitus Position

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In some situations, patients need endotracheal intubation to maintain airway patency while they are constrained in the lateral position. In this study we compared lightwand-guided intubation of 120 randomly enrolled patients placed in the supine, right, or left lateral position. Group S patients were initially placed in the supine position, and subsequent to the artificial airway having been established they were turned to the lateral decubitus position. Group R patients were initially placed in a right decubitus position during induction and intubation. Group L patients were initially placed in a left decubitus position during induction and intubation. The duration of each intubation attempt, the total time to successful intubation, and the incidence of intubation-related intraoral injury, hemodynamic changes, and postoperative sore throat and hoarseness were recorded. Intubation took a similar length of time in the supine (14.5 ± 13.4 s), left lateral (13.3 ± 10.2 s), and right lateral positions (15.5 ± 13.0 s) and resulted in a similar trend in hemodynamic changes. Patients in the lateral and supine positions revealed a comparable incidence of successful first-attempt intubation, sore throat, hoarseness, oral mucosal injury, and dysrhythmia. Insignificantly more esophageal intubations were performed in the lateral position in the first attempt at intubation; however, all patients were correctly intubated shortly after reattempting intubation. We concluded that lightwand-assisted intubation is easily performed and a similar technique may be used whether the patient is in a lateral, recumbent, or a supine position. This alternative technique should be practiced and is recommended for patients who must remain in a lateral position during intubation and surgery.

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