DOI: 10.3390/jpm13091327 ISSN:

Airway Management: The Current Role of Videolaryngoscopy

Sophie A. Saul, Patrick A. Ward, Alistair F. McNarry
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)

Airway management is usually an uncomplicated and safe intervention; however, when problems arise with the primary airway technique, the clinical situation can rapidly deteriorate, resulting in significant patient harm. Videolaryngoscopy has been shown to improve patient outcomes when compared with direct laryngoscopy, including improved first-pass success at tracheal intubation, reduced difficult laryngeal views, reduced oxygen desaturation, reduced airway trauma, and improved recognition of oesophageal intubation. The shared view that videolaryngoscopy affords may also facilitate superior teaching, training, and multidisciplinary team performance. As such, its recommended role in airway management has evolved from occasional use as a rescue device (when direct laryngoscopy fails) to a first-intention technique that should be incorporated into routine clinical practice, and this is reflected in recently updated guidelines from a number of international airway societies. However, currently, overall videolaryngoscopy usage is not commensurate with its now widespread availability. A number of factors exist that may be preventing its full adoption, including perceived financial costs, inadequacy of education and training, challenges in achieving deliverable decontamination processes, concerns over sustainability, fears over “de-skilling” at direct laryngoscopy, and perceived limitations of videolaryngoscopes. This article reviews the most up-to-date evidence supporting videolaryngoscopy, explores its current scope of utilisation (including specialist techniques), the potential barriers preventing its full adoption, and areas for future advancement and research.

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