Apneic oxygenation during intubation in the emergency department and during retrieval: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Am J Emerg Med. 2017 Oct;35(10):1542-1546. doi: 10.1016/j.ajem.2017.06.046. Epub 2017 Jun 24.


Background: Hypoxemia increases the risk of intubation markedly. Such concerns are multiplied in the emergency department (ED) and during retrieval where patients may be unstable, preparation or preoxygenation time limited and the environment uncontrolled. Apneic oxygenation is a promising means of preventing hypoxemia in this setting.

Aim: To test the hypothesis that apnoeic oxygenation reduces the incidence of hypoxemia during endotracheal intubation in the ED and during retrieval.

Methods: We undertook a systematic review of six databases for all relevant studies published up to November 2016. Included studies evaluated apneic oxygenation during intubation in the ED and during retrieval. There were no exemptions based on study design. All studies were assessed for level of evidence and risk of bias. The Review Manager 5.3 software was used to perform meta-analysis of the pooled data.

Results: Six trials and a total 1822 cases were included for analysis. The study found a significant reduction in the incidence of desaturation (RR=0.76, p=0.002) and critical desaturation (RR=0.51, p=0.01) when apneic oxygenation was implemented. There was also a significant improvement in first pass intubation success rate (RR=1.09, p=0.004).

Conclusion: Apneic oxygenation may reduce patient hypoxemia during intubation performed in the ED and during retrieval. It also improves intubation first-pass success rate in this setting.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Airway Extubation / methods*
  • Apnea / therapy*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital*
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia / prevention & control*
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / methods*
  • Oxygen Inhalation Therapy / methods
  • Respiration, Artificial / methods*