Objectives: While optical and video laryngoscopy have been studied in the emergency department, the operating room, and the routine prehospital setting, their efficacy in the tactical environment--in which operator safety is as important as intubation success--has not been evaluated. This study compared direct laryngoscopes to optical (AirTraq) and video (King Vision) laryngoscopes in a simulated tactical setting.
Methods: This prospective institutional review board-approved simulation study evaluated each of the laryngoscopes in the hands of seven experienced tactical paramedics. After a one-hour training session, each tactical paramedic used each of the laryngoscopes, in a random order, on each of four different airway manikins. A tactical environment was simulated using auditory and visual immersion, and the intubations occurred on the ground with the paramedics in full tactical gear. Outcomes included time to successful ventilation, first-pass success rate, Cormack-Lehane grade, and intubator head height during the intubation. Statistical analysis included chi-squared and Wilcoxon rank sum tests, and multivariate logistic regression was performed to determine contributing factors to outcomes with significant variation.
Results: A total of 84 intubations were performed by seven tactical paramedics. While there were no significant differences in time to successful ventilation or first-pass success rate, the optical and video laryngoscopes had significantly better Cormack-Lehane grades, defined as grade I or II (100% for both compared to 85.7%), while direct laryngoscopy resulted in significantly less maximum vertical exposure of the intubator (51.82 cm compared to AirTraq's 56.64 cm and King Vision's 56.13 cm).
Conclusion: Video and optical laryngoscopes can be used successfully by experienced tactical paramedics in a simulated tactical setting. The King Vision and AirTraq resulted in improved Cormack-Lehane glottic views but similar times to ventilation and first-pass success compared to direct laryngoscopy. Intubator head height was lower with direct laryngoscopy. Clarifying the role of optical and video laryngoscopes in a tactical environment, especially in the hands of less experienced intubators, requires further research.
Keywords: airway management; intubation; simulation; tactical medicine; video laryngoscopy.