Background: Many resuscitation scenarios include the use of emergency intubation to support injured patients. New video-guided airway management technology is available, which may minimize the risk to patients from this procedure.
Methods: This was a controlled clinical trial conducted in the trauma receiving unit in a university-affiliated urban hospital in which 623 consecutive adult patients requiring emergency airway management were prospectively randomized to intubation with either the direct laryngoscope (DL) or the GlideScope video laryngoscope (GVL) device.
Results: The primary outcome was survival to hospital discharge. There was no significant difference in mortality between the GVL group (28 [9%] of 303) and the DL group (24 [8%] of 320) (p = 0.43) for all patients. Within a smaller cohort identified retrospectively, there was a higher mortality rate seen in the subgroup of patients with severe head injuries (head Abbreviated Injury Scale [AIS] score > 3) who were randomized to intubation with GVL (22 [30%] of 73) versus DL (16 [14%] of 112) (p = 0.047). Among all patients, median intubation duration in seconds was significantly higher for the GVL group (median, 56; interquartile range, 40-81) than for the DL group (median, 40; interquartile range, 24-68) (p < 0.001). Among those with severe head injuries, median intubation duration in seconds was also significantly higher for the GVL group (median, 74) than for the DL group (median, 65) (p < 0.003). Correspondingly, this group also experienced a greater incidence of low oxygen saturations of 80% or less (27 [50%] of 54 for the GVL group and 15 [24%] of 63 for the DL group; p = 0.004). There were no significant differences between the two groups in first-pass success (80% for GVL and 81% for DL, p = 0.46).
Conclusion: Use of the GlideScope did not influence survival to hospital discharge among all patients and was associated with longer intubation times than direct laryngoscopy. Among the video laryngoscope cohort, a smaller subgroup of severe head injury trauma patients identified retrospectively seemed to be associated with a greater incidence of hypoxia of 80% or less and mortality.