Management of the predicted difficult airway: a comparison of conventional blade laryngoscopy with video-assisted blade laryngoscopy and the GlideScope

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Background and objective

We investigated whether the use of two different video laryngoscopes [direct-coupled interface (DCI) video laryngoscope and GlideScope] may improve laryngoscopic view and intubation success compared with the conventional direct Macintosh laryngoscope (direct laryngoscopy) in patients with a predicted difficult airway.


One hundred and twenty adult patients undergoing elective minor surgery requiring general anaesthesia and endotracheal intubation presenting with at least one predictor for a difficult airway were enrolled after Institutional Review Board approval and written informed consent was obtained. Repeated laryngoscopy was performed using direct laryngoscope, DCI laryngoscope and GlideScope in a randomized sequence before patients were intubated.


Both video laryngoscopes showed significantly better laryngoscopic view (according to Cormack and Lehane classification as modified by Yentis and Lee = C&L) than direct laryngoscope. Laryngoscopic view C&L ≥ III was measured in 30% of patients when using direct laryngoscopy, and in only 11% when using the DCI laryngoscope (P < 0.001). The GlideScope enabled significantly better laryngoscopic view (C&L ≥ III: 1.6%) than both direct (P < 0.001) and DCI laryngoscopes (P < 0.05). Clinically relevant improvement in the specific 36 patients with insufficient direct view (C&L ≥ III) could be achieved significantly more often with the GlideScope (94.4%) than with the DCI laryngoscope (63.8%; P < 0.01). Laryngoscopy time did not differ between instruments [median (range): direct laryngoscope, 13 (5–33) s; DCI laryngoscope, 14 (6–40) s; GlideScope, 13 (5–34) s]. In contrast, tracheal intubation needed significantly more time with both video laryngoscopes [DCI laryngoscope, 27 (17–94) s, P < 0.05 and GlideScope, 33 (18–68) s, P < 0.01] than with the direct laryngoscope [22.5 (12–49) s]. Intubation failed in four cases (10%) using the direct laryngoscope and in one case (2.5%) each using the DCI laryngoscope and the GlideScope.


We conclude that the video laryngoscope and GlideScope in particular may be useful instruments in the management of the predicted difficult airway.

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