Video laryngoscopy versus direct laryngoscopy for orotracheal intubation in the intensive care unit: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Intensive Care Med. 2014 May;40(5):629-39. doi: 10.1007/s00134-014-3236-5. Epub 2014 Feb 21.


Purpose: Single studies of video laryngoscopy (VL) use for airway management in intensive care unit (ICU) patients have produced controversial findings. The aim of this study was to critically review the literature to investigate whether VL reduces difficult orotracheal intubation (OTI) rate, first-attempt success, and complications related to intubation in ICU patients, compared to standard therapy, defined as direct laryngoscopy (DL).

Methods: We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials, as well as prospective and retrospective observational studies, by searching PubMed, EMBASE, and bibliographies of articles retrieved. We screened for relevant studies that enrolled adults in whom the trachea was intubated in the ICU and compared VL to DL. We included studies reporting at least one clinical outcome of interest to perform a meta-analysis. We generated pooled odd ratios (OR) across studies. The primary outcome measure was difficult OTI. The secondary outcomes were first-attempt success, Cormack 3/4 grades, and complications related to intubation (severe hypoxemia, severe cardiovascular collapse, airway injury, esophageal intubation).

Results: Nine trials with a total of 2,133 participants (1,067 in DL and 1,066 in VL) were included in the current analysis. Compared to DL, VL reduced the risk of difficult OTI [OR 0.29 (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.20-0.44, p < 0.001)], Cormack 3/4 grades [OR 0.26 (95% CI 0.17-0.41, p < 0.001)], and esophageal intubation [0.14 (95% CI 0.02-0.81, p = 0.03)] and increased the first-attempt success [OR 2.07 (95% CI 1.35-3.16, p < 0.001)]. No statistically significant difference was found for severe hypoxemia, severe cardiovascular collapse or airway injury.

Conclusions: These results suggest that VL could be useful in airway management of ICU patients.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cardiovascular System / injuries
  • Critical Care / methods
  • Databases, Bibliographic
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / adverse effects
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / instrumentation
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / methods*
  • Laryngoscopy / methods*
  • Laryngoscopy / standards
  • Lung Injury / etiology
  • Outcome and Process Assessment, Health Care*
  • Video-Assisted Surgery / adverse effects
  • Video-Assisted Surgery / instrumentation
  • Video-Assisted Surgery / methods*