Although most tracheal intubations with direct laryngoscopy are not performed with a styletted endotracheal tube, it is recommended that a stylet can be used with indirect videolaryngoscopy. Recently, there were several reports of complications associated with styletted endotracheal tubes and videolaryngoscopy. In this study, we compared three videolaryngoscopes (VLSs) in patients undergoing tracheal intubation for elective surgery: the GlideScope Ranger (GlideScope, Bothell, WA), the V-MAC Storz Berci DCI (Karl Storz, Tuttlingen, Germany), and the McGrath (McGrath series 5, Aircraft medical, Edinburgh, UK) and tested whether it is feasible to intubate the trachea of patients with indirect videolaryngoscopy without using a stylet.
Four hundred fifty consecutive adults (ASA PS I-II) undergoing tracheal intubation for elective surgery were randomly allocated for airway management with one of the three devices. Anesthesia induction for tracheal intubation consisted of fentanyl-propofol-rocuronium. An independent anesthesiologist used the Cormack-Lehane grading system to score an initial direct laryngoscopic view using a classic metal Macintosh blade. After subsequent positive-pressure ventilation using a face mask and an oxygen-sevoflurane mixture for 1 min, the trachea was intubated using one of the three VLSs. During intubation, the following data were collected: intubation time, number of intubation attempts, use of extra tools to facilitate intubation, and overall satisfaction score of the intubation conditions.
The trachea of every patient was intubated using the VLSs, and none of the patients required conversion to the classic Macintosh laryngoscope. All three VLSs offered equal or better view of the glottis as assessed by the mean Cormack-Lehane grade, compared with the traditional Macintosh laryngoscopy, including a larger viewing angle of the glottic entrance. The average intubation time was 34 +/- 20 s for the GlideScope, 18 +/- 12 s for the V-MAC Storz, and 38 +/- 23 s for the McGrath VLS. Intubation with the Storz was faster (P < 0.05) than the other two VLS tested and necessitated fewer additional tools (P < 0.01), resulting in a higher first-pass successful intubation rate. A stylet had to be used in 7% of the patients in the Storz group versus about 50% of the patients when the other two VLS were used.
The trachea of a large proportion of patients with normal airways can be intubated successfully with certain VLS blades without using a stylet, although the three studied VLSs clearly differ in outcome. The Storz VLS displaces soft tissues in the fashion of a classic Macintosh scope, affording room for tracheal tube insertion and limiting the need for stylet use compared with the other two scopes. Although VLSs offer several advantages, including better visualization of the glottic entrance and intubation conditions, a good laryngeal view does not guarantee easy or successful tracheal tube insertion. We recommend that the geometry of VLSs, including blade design, should be studied in more detail.