A comparison of the C-MAC video laryngoscope to the Macintosh direct laryngoscope for intubation in the emergency department

Ann Emerg Med. 2012 Dec;60(6):739-48. doi: 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2012.03.031. Epub 2012 May 5.


Study objective: We determine the proportion of successful intubations with the C-MAC video laryngoscope (C-MAC) compared with the direct laryngoscope in emergency department (ED) intubations.

Methods: This was a retrospective analysis of prospectively collected data entered into a continuous quality improvement database during a 28-month period in an academic ED. After each intubation, the operator completed a standardized data form evaluating multiple aspects of the intubation, including patient demographics, indication for intubation, device(s) used, reason for device selection, difficult airway characteristics, number of attempts, and outcome of each attempt. Intubation was considered ultimately successful if the endotracheal tube was correctly inserted into the trachea with the initial device. An attempt was defined as insertion of the device into the mouth regardless of whether there was an attempt to pass the tube. The primary outcome measure was ultimate success. Secondary outcome measures were first-attempt success, Cormack-Lehane view, and esophageal intubation. Multivariate logistic regression analyses, with the inclusion of a propensity score, were performed for the outcome variables ultimate success and first-attempt success.

Results: During the 28-month study period, 750 intubations were performed with either the C-MAC with a size 3 or 4 blade or a direct laryngoscope with a Macintosh size 3 or 4 blade. Of these, 255 were performed with the C-MAC as the initial device and 495 with a Macintosh direct laryngoscope as the initial device. The C-MAC resulted in successful intubation in 248 of 255 cases (97.3%; 95% confidence interval [CI] 94.4% to 98.9%). A direct laryngoscope resulted in successful intubation in 418 of 495 cases (84.4%; 95% CI 81.0% to 87.5%). In the multivariate regression model, with a propensity score included, the C-MAC was positively predictive of ultimate success (odds ratio 12.7; 95% CI 4.1 to 38.8) and first-attempt success (odds ratio 2.2; 95% CI 1.2 to 3.8). When the C-MAC was used as a video laryngoscope, a Cormack-Lehane grade I or II view (video) was obtained in 117 of 125 cases (93.6%; 95% CI 87.8% to 97.2%), whereas when a direct laryngoscope was used, a grade I or II view was obtained in 410 of 495 cases (82.8%; 95% CI 79.2% to 86.1%). The C-MAC was associated with immediately recognized esophageal intubation in 4 of 255 cases (1.6%; 95% CI 0.4% to 4.0%), whereas a direct laryngoscope was associated with immediately recognized esophageal intubation in 24 of 495 cases (4.8%; 95% CI 3.1% to 7.1%).

Conclusion: When used for emergency intubations in the ED, the C-MAC was associated with a greater proportion of successful intubations and a greater proportion of Cormack-Lehane grade I or II views compared with a direct laryngoscope.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Emergency Service, Hospital*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / instrumentation*
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / methods
  • Laryngoscopes*
  • Laryngoscopy / instrumentation*
  • Laryngoscopy / methods
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult