Fiberoptic intubation in the emergency department

Ann Emerg Med. 1990 Apr;19(4):359-62. doi: 10.1016/s0196-0644(05)82333-9.


Fiberoptic-aided endotracheal intubation has been shown to be effective in difficult intubation secondary to anatomic abnormalities and traumatic conditions. A retrospective review of emergency airway management in an emergency department during a 30-month period found 35 patients who underwent fiberoptic-aided endotracheal intubation; 31 were treated for medical conditions, and four were trauma patients. Indications in the medical group included failed nasotracheal intubation (ten), anatomic abnormalities (six), and the initial airway maneuver attempted (15). Indications in the trauma group with suspected cervical-spine injury included failed nasotracheal intubation (one) and initial airway maneuver attempted (three). In the medical subgroup, 25 of 31 patients were intubated successfully fiberoptically. All four trauma patients were intubated successfully, and all attempts were done nasally. The limitations of the technique were varied. Twenty of the 25 successful intubations had times recorded for completion (mean time, 1.8 +/- 1.4 minutes [SD]). Four of the six failed attempts had recorded times of 7.8 +/- 1.4 minutes. The mean time of the four trauma cases was 3 +/- 2.2 minutes. The presence of secretions, blood, or vomitus was the cause in five of the six failed intubations. The sixth patient kept swallowing the distal end of the scope. Fiscal restraints may also limit its use. At our institution, the financial commitment has been approximately +17,000 during the past nine years. Repair or replacement of broken equipment appears to be necessary every two or three years. Immediate airway control is often difficult with fiberoptic-aided endotracheal intubation and should be used only in selected patients.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

MeSH terms

  • Costs and Cost Analysis / economics
  • Emergencies
  • Emergency Service, Hospital* / economics
  • Fiber Optic Technology / economics
  • Fiber Optic Technology / instrumentation
  • Humans
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / economics
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / instrumentation
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / statistics & numerical data*
  • Minnesota
  • Resuscitation
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Time Factors