Video laryngoscopy does not improve the intubation outcomes in emergency and critical patients - a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials

Crit Care. 2017 Nov 24;21(1):288. doi: 10.1186/s13054-017-1885-9.


Background: There is significant controversy regarding the influence of video laryngoscopy on the intubation outcomes in emergency and critical patients. This systematic review and meta-analysis was designed to determine whether video laryngoscopy could improve the intubation outcomes in emergency and critical patients.

Methods: We searched the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, PubMed, Embase, and Scopus databases from database inception until 15 February 2017. Only randomized controlled trials comparing video and direct laryngoscopy for tracheal intubation in emergency department, intensive care unit, and prehospital settings were selected. The primary outcome was the first-attempt success rate. Review Manager 5.3 software was used to perform the pooled analysis and assess the risk of bias for each eligible study. The GRADE (Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation) system was used to assess the quality of evidence for all outcomes.

Results: Twelve studies (2583 patients) were included in the review for data extraction. Pooled analysis did not show an improved first-attempt success rate using video laryngoscopy (relative risk [RR], 0.93; P = 0.28; low-quality evidence). There was significant heterogeneity among studies (I 2 = 91%). Subgroup analyses showed that, in the prehospital setting, video laryngoscopy decreased the first-attempt success rate (RR, 0.57; P < 0.01; high-quality evidence) and overall success rate (RR, 0.58; 95% CI, 0.48-0.69; moderate-quality evidence) by experienced operators, whereas in the in-hospital setting, no significant difference between two devices was identified for the first-attempt success rate (RR, 1.06; P = 0.14; moderate-quality evidence), regardless of the experience of the operators or the types of video laryngoscopes used (P > 0.05), although a slightly higher overall success rate was shown (RR, 1.11; P = 0.03; moderate-quality evidence). There were no differences between devices for other outcomes (P > 0.05), except for a lower rate of esophageal intubation (P = 0.01) and a higher rate of Cormack and Lehane grade 1 (P < 0.01) when using video laryngoscopy.

Conclusions: On the basis of the results of this study, we conclude that, compared with direct laryngoscopy, video laryngoscopy does not improve intubation outcomes in emergency and critical patients. Prehospital intubation is even worsened by use of video laryngoscopy when performed by experienced operators.

Keywords: Airway management; Laryngoscope; Randomized controlled trial; Tracheal intubation.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Equipment Design / standards
  • Humans
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / instrumentation
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / methods
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / standards
  • Laryngoscopy / methods*
  • Laryngoscopy / standards
  • Video Recording / instrumentation*
  • Video Recording / methods