Use of a lighted stylet for guided orotracheal intubation in the prehospital setting

Ann Emerg Med. 1985 Apr;14(4):324-8. doi: 10.1016/s0196-0644(85)80097-4.


Management of the airway in acutely injured patients demands special skills of the emergency physician. A technique of light-guided orotracheal intubation has been described in the literature and was performed under protocol by resident physicians in an urban mobile intensive care system. The method utilizes a flexible lighted stylet to provide a guide to correct placement through transillumination of the soft tissues of the neck. During the 12-month period of the study, 24 intubations were attempted in 21 patients using this technique. Twenty-one attempts (88%) were successful. The average time for intubation was 20 seconds, with none requiring more than 45 seconds. Fourteen intubations (67%) were successful on the first attempt. Of the three unsuccessful procedures, two were attempted in bright sunlight, and all three patients had vomited prior to the attempts. Trauma to the soft tissues in one successfully intubated patient was the only complication reported with the technique. The advantages of this method, including rapidity of intubation, ability to intubate without manipulation of the head or neck, and the apparently few complications, make it particularly attractive to emergency personnel. We conclude that guided orotracheal intubation using a lighted stylet is an effective and safe method of emergency intubation, even in the adverse prehospital environment.

MeSH terms

  • Critical Care / instrumentation
  • Emergency Medical Services
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / instrumentation*
  • Lighting
  • Male
  • Mobile Health Units
  • Pennsylvania
  • Time Factors