Question Should video laryngoscopy be used for orotracheal intubation in the intensive care unit (ICU) despite conflicting evidence that it improves the first-pass success rate?
Findings Video laryngoscopy for orotracheal intubation in the ICU did not improve the first-pass success rate compared with conventional direct laryngoscopy (67.7% vs 70.3%, respectively).
Meaning Video laryngoscopy did not improve the frequency of successful first-pass intubation in the ICU.
Importance 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.
Trial Registration clinicaltrials.gov Identifier: NCT02413723