A Randomized Trial Comparing the Effect of Fiberoptic Selection and Guidance Versus Random Selection, Blind Insertion, and Direct Laryngoscopy, on the Incidence and Severity of Epistaxis After Nasotracheal Intubation

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Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Epistaxis, or nasal bleeding, is a common complication after nasotracheal intubation (NTI). Because such bleeding is likely related to trauma during intubation, use of fiberoptic visualization and guidance rather than direct laryngoscopy may affect the incidence and severity of epistaxis. We compared the incidence of epistaxis after NTI using a fiberoptic versus a direct laryngoscopy approach.

METHODS:

Seventy patients who were able to breathe easily through unobstructed nostrils and required NTI as part of their anesthetic management were recruited. Exclusion criteria included unequal nasal airflow, nostril obstruction, previous nasal trauma or surgery, and coagulation abnormalities as determined by history. Patients were randomly assigned to undergo NTI with thermosoftened Mallinckrodt nasal Ring-Adair-Elwyn (RAE) tubes via either traditional direct laryngoscopy using a Macintosh blade or fiberoptic nasal intubation. All patients first underwent anesthetic induction and were randomized to blind or fiberoptic groups. Patients in the blind insertion/direct laryngoscopy group were then intubated via a randomly selected nostril. Patients in the fiberoptic group underwent an asleep nasal fiberoptic examination to determine the most patent nostril, followed by tube insertion under fiberoptic guidance. Ten minutes after NTI, the incidence and severity of epistaxis were evaluated and graded by the surgeon, who was blinded to the intubation method.

RESULTS:

Initial nasal fiberoptic endoscopy identified asymptomatic nasal pathology in 51% of patients: inferior turbinate hypertrophy (28.6%) and deviation of the nasal septum in (22.8%). The incidence of epistaxis was higher in the blind insertion/direct laryngoscopy group (88%) than in the fiberoptic group (51%; relative risk, 0.55; 95% confidence interval, 0.38–0.79; P = .0011). The severity of bleeding was also greater in the blind tube insertion/direct laryngoscopy cohort (Wilcoxon Mann-Whitney odds, 3.5; 95% confidence interval, 1.8–11.1).

CONCLUSIONS:

Fiberoptic nostril selection and guidance during NTI reduced the incidence and severity of epistaxis when compared with NTI performed via blind insertion and direct laryngoscopy.

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