Video laryngoscope successes and failures

With a difficult airway, video laryngoscopes can get you out of a hole – or rather into one. However they’re not guaranteed for all eventualities; a large study of Glidescope use showed:

  • Primary intubation with the Glidescope was successful in 98% of 1,755 cases and rescued failed direct laryngoscopy in 94% of 239 cases.
  • Altered neck anatomy with presence of a surgical scar, radiation changes, or mass was the strongest predictor of Glidescope failure.



INTRODUCTION: The Glidescope video laryngoscope has been shown to be a useful tool to improve laryngeal view. However, its role in the daily routine of airway management remains poorly characterized.

METHODS: This investigation evaluated the use of the Glidescope at two academic medical centers. Electronic records from 71,570 intubations were reviewed, and 2,004 cases were identified where the Glidescope was used for airway management. We analyzed the success rate of Glidescope intubation in various intubation scenarios. In addition, the incidence and character of complications associated with Glidescope use were recorded. Predictors of Glidescope intubation failure were determined using a logistic regression analysis.

RESULTS: Overall success for Glidescope intubation was 97% (1,944 of 2,004). As a primary technique, success was 98% (1,712 of 1,755), whereas success in patients with predictors of difficult direct laryngoscopy was 96% (1,377 of 1,428). Success for Glidescope intubation after failed direct laryngoscopy was 94% (224 of 239). Complications were noticed in 1% (21 of 2,004) of patients and mostly involved minor soft tissue injuries, but major complications, such as dental, pharyngeal, tracheal, or laryngeal injury, occurred in 0.3% (6 of 2,004) of patients. The strongest predictor of Glidescope failure was altered neck anatomy with presence of a surgical scar, radiation changes, or mass.

CONCLUSION: These data demonstrate a high success rate of Glidescope intubation in both primary airway management and rescue-failed direct laryngoscopy. However, Glidescope intubation is not always successful and certain predictors of failure can be identified. Providers should maintain their competency with alternate methods of intubation, especially for patients with neck pathology.

Routine Clinical Practice Effectiveness of the Glidescope in Difficult Airway Management
Anesthesiology. 2011 Jan;114(1):34-41

6 thoughts on “Video laryngoscope successes and failures”

  1. Bleeding isn’t mentioned anywhere in the paper. They were indeed all operating room cases intubated by the anesthesiology staff

  2. hi.
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