Endotracheal intubation (ETI) with direct view laryngoscopy (DL) is the gold standard for airway management. Videolaryngoscopy (VL) can improve glottis visualization, thus facilitating ETI. The aim of this monocentric, randomized, prospective study on a physician staffed German air ambulance is to compare DL and VL for ETI in terms of number of attempts and time as well as visualization of the glottis in a prehospital setting in a physician-based rescue system in adult patients. A power analysis was performed à priori. We used consecutive on-scene randomization with a sealed envelope system for the DL and VL-group. Successful ETI with first pass success was significantly more frequent with VL than DL and three seconds faster. The percentage of glottis opening and the Cormack & Lehane classification were significantly better with VL than DL. Regarding improved first pass success in ETI with the VL, we would recommend the use of VL for prehospital airway management in physician-based rescue systems.
Keywords: air ambulance; airway management; intubation; laryngoscopy; prehospital care; rescue helicopter; video.