Analysis of prehospital endotracheal intubation performed by emergency physicians: retrospective survey of a single emergency medical center in Japan

J Anesth. 2013 Jun;27(3):374-9. doi: 10.1007/s00540-012-1528-x. Epub 2012 Dec 14.


Objectives: Advanced airway management in the prehospital setting is a serious issue in Japan because emergency medical technicians are not authorized to perform such management, whereas physicians-who are authorized to perform advanced airway management-do not usually engage in prehospital emergency medical activity. The purpose of this investigation was to investigate the success rate for endotracheal intubation (ETI) procedures and other methods of airway management employed by physicians in the prehospital setting in a single institution, as well as to examine the risk factors associated with difficult or failed endotracheal intubation (D/F ETI).

Methods: We performed a retrospective survey of patients treated in the prehospital setting by emergency physicians of the Hyogo Emergency Medical Center from 2004 to 2011. Patients were divided into two groups: a cardiopulmonary arrest (CPA) group and a non-CPA group. Data on cases of D/F ETI were obtained, and risk factors for these two groups were identified using univariate and statistical analysis.

Results: During the investigation period, ETI was attempted in the prehospital setting on 742 eligible patients; in 30 (4.04 %) of these cases, the attempts at ETI proved difficult or failed. Of those 30 patients, 13 patients received a surgical airway (attempts to provide a surgical airway failed in two patients), a blind ETI was performed in four, a video-assisted airway device was used in another four, and esophageal intubation was performed in four patients. Bag-valve ventilation alone was performed in one patient. The incidence of D/F ETI was higher in the non-CPA group than in the CPA group (6.27 vs. 2.63 %: p < 0.05). Facial or neck injury was a risk factor for D/F ETI in the prehospital setting in the CPA group (odds ratio 7.855; 95 % CI 1.754-36.293: p = 0.042). On the other hand, no risk factors for D/F ETI in the prehospital setting in the non-CPA group were identified.

Conclusion: The success rate for ETI performed by physicians in the prehospital setting at a single emergency medical center was high, and the incidence of D/F ETI was 4.31 %. The success rate for ETI in the CPA group was greater than that in the non-CPA group.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Airway Management / methods*
  • Airway Management / standards
  • Airway Management / statistics & numerical data
  • Emergency Medical Services / methods*
  • Emergency Medical Services / standards
  • Emergency Medical Services / statistics & numerical data
  • Emergency Medical Technicians / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / methods*
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / standards
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / statistics & numerical data
  • Japan
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physicians / statistics & numerical data*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Young Adult