Video Versus Direct and Augmented Direct Laryngoscopy in Pediatric Tracheal Intubations

Acad Emerg Med. 2020 May;27(5):394-402. doi: 10.1111/acem.13869. Epub 2019 Nov 7.


Objectives: With respect to first-attempt intubation success, the pediatric literature demonstrates either clinical equipoise or superiority of direct laryngoscopy (DL) when compared to video laryngoscopy (VL). Furthermore, it is unknown how VL compares to DL, when DL is "augmented" by maneuvers, such as optimal external laryngeal manipulation (OELM), upright or ramped positioning, or the use of the bougie. The objective of our study was to compare first-attempt success between VL and all DL, including "augmented DL" for pediatric intubations.

Methods: We analyzed the National Emergency Airway Registry database of intubations of patients < 16 years. Variables collected included patient demographics, body habitus, impression of airway difficulty, intubating position, reduced neck mobility, airway characteristics, device, medications, and operator characteristics, adjusted for clustering by center. Primary outcome was the difference in first-attempt success for DL and augmented DL versus VL. Secondary outcomes included adverse events. In a planned sensitivity analysis, a propensity-adjusted analysis for first-attempt success and a subgroup analysis of children < 2 years was also performed.

Results: Of 625 analyzable pediatric encounters, 294 (47.0%, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 25.1% to 69.0%) were DL; 332 (53.1%, 95% CI = 31.0% to 74.9%) were VL. Median age was 4 years (interquartile range = 1 to 10 years); 225 (36.0%, 95% CI = 30.8% to 41.2%) were < 2 years. Overall first-pass success was 79.6% (95% CI = 74.1% to 84.9%). VL first-pass success was 278/331 (84.0%) versus 219/294 for DL (74.5%), adjusted for clustering (odds ratio [OR] = 1.7, 95% CI = 1.3 to 2.5). Multivariable regression showed that VL yielded a higher odds of first-attempt success than DL augmented by OELM or use of a bougie (adjusted OR = 5.5, 95% CI = 1.7 to 18.1). Propensity-adjusted analyses supported the main results. Subgroup analysis of age < 2 years also demonstrated VL superiority (OR = 2.0, 95% CI = 1.1 to 3.3) compared with DL. Adverse events were comparable in both univariate and multivariable analysis.

Conclusions: When compared to DL, VL was associated with higher first-pass success in this pediatric population, even in the subgroup of patients < 2 years, as well as when DL was augmented. There were no differences in adverse effects between DL and VL.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / methods*
  • Laryngoscopy / methods*
  • Male
  • Odds Ratio
  • Registries
  • Thoracic Surgery, Video-Assisted / methods*
  • Treatment Outcome