Determination of the utility of the Intubation Difficulty Scale for use with indirect laryngoscopes

Anaesthesia. 2011 Dec;66(12):1127-33. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2044.2011.06891.x. Epub 2011 Oct 4.


The purpose of this study was to determine whether the Intubation Difficulty Scale is meaningful when used with indirect laryngoscopes. Data were analysed from previously published clinical trials from our group that compared the indirect laryngoscopes with the Macintosh laryngoscope. For each laryngoscope type, the Intubation Difficulty Scale score obtained for each tracheal intubation was correlated with data for duration of the intubation attempt and with the user rated difficulty of the intubation attempt. The strengths of the correlations between these indices were then compared for tracheas intubated with the Macintosh vs the indirect laryngoscopes. The Intubation Difficulty Scale performed well when compared with data for duration and user rated difficulty of the intubation attempts for the both direct and indirect laryngoscopy. However, the correlation between the Intubation Difficulty Scale score and both user rated difficulty (p = 0.001) and the duration of tracheal intubation (p = 0.003) were significantly stronger for the Macintosh laryngoscope compared with the indirect laryngoscopes. In contrast, the correlation between user rated difficulty scores and the data for duration of tracheal intubation was not different between the device types. The Intubation Difficulty Scale performs less well with indirect laryngoscopes than with the Macintosh laryngoscope. These findings suggest the need for caution with the use of this score with indirect laryngoscopes.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / instrumentation*
  • Laryngoscopes*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged