This paper from the Clinical Research in Intensive Care and Sepsis (CRICS) Group was published in JAMA February 2017 vol 317 no 5 pp483-93. The full text is available in the Health Care Library on Level D of Rotherham Hospital
In the intensive care unit (ICU), orotracheal intubation can be associated with increased risk of complications because the patient may be acutely unstable, requiring prompt intervention, often by a practitioner with nonexpert skills. Video laryngoscopy may decrease this risk by improving glottis visualization. Objective To determine whether video laryngoscopy increases the frequency of successful first-pass orotracheal intubation compared with direct laryngoscopy in ICU patients.
Design, Setting, and Participants Randomized clinical trial of 371 adults requiring intubation while being treated at 7 ICUs in France between May 2015 and January 2016; there was 28 days of follow-up. Interventions Intubation using a video laryngoscope (n = 186) or direct laryngoscopy (n = 185). All patients received general anesthesia.
Main Outcomes and Measures The primary outcome was the proportion of patients with successful first-pass intubation. The secondary outcomes included time to successful intubation and mild to moderate and severe life-threatening complications.
Results Among 371 randomized patients (mean [SD] age, 62.8 [15.8] years; 136 [36.7%] women), 371 completed the trial. The proportion of patients with successful first-pass intubation did not differ significantly between the video laryngoscopy and direct laryngoscopy groups (67.7% vs 70.3%; absolute difference, -2.5% [95% CI, -11.9% to 6.9%]; P = .60). The proportion of first-attempt intubations performed by nonexperts (primarily residents, n = 290) did not differ between the groups (84.4% with video laryngoscopy vs 83.2% with direct laryngoscopy; absolute difference 1.2% [95% CI, -6.3% to 8.6%]; P = .76). The median time to successful intubation was 3 minutes (range, 2 to 4 minutes) for both video laryngoscopy and direct laryngoscopy (absolute difference, 0 [95% CI, 0 to 0]; P = .95). Video laryngoscopy was not associated with life-threatening complications (24/180 [13.3%] vs 17/179 [9.5%] for direct laryngoscopy; absolute difference, 3.8% [95% CI, -2.7% to 10.4%]; P = .25). In post hoc analysis, video laryngoscopy was associated with severe life-threatening complications (17/179 [9.5%] vs 5/179 [2.8%] for direct laryngoscopy; absolute difference, 6.7% [95% CI, 1.8% to 11.6%]; P = .01) but not with mild to moderate life-threatening complications (10/181 [5.4%] vs 14/181 [7.7%]; absolute difference, -2.3% [95% CI, -7.4% to 2.8%]; P = .37).
Conclusions and Relevance Among patients in the ICU requiring intubation, video laryngoscopy compared with direct laryngoscopy did not improve first-pass orotracheal intubation rates and was associated with higher rates of severe life-threatening complications. Further studies are needed to assess the comparative effectiveness of these 2 strategies in different clinical settings and among operators with diverse skill levels.