Kantonsspital St.Gallen

Analysis of tracheal intubation in out-of-hospital helicopter emergency medicine recorded by video laryngoscopy

Jürgen Knapp, Bettina Eberle, Michael Bernhard, Lorenz Theiler, Urs Pietsch & Roland Albrecht


Tracheal intubation remains the gold standard of airway management in emergency medicine and maximizing safety, intubation success, and especially first-pass intubation success (FPS) in these situations is imperative.

We conducted a prospective observational study on all 12 helicopter emergency medical service (HEMS) bases of the Swiss Air Rescue, between February 15, 2018, and February 14, 2019. All 428 patients on whom out-of-hospital advanced airway management was performed by the HEMS crew were included. The C-MAC video laryngoscope was used as the primary device for tracheal intubation. Intubation procedures were recorded by the video laryngoscope and precise time points were recorded to verify the time necessary for each attempt and the overall procedure time until successful intubation. The videos were further analysed for problems and complications during airway management by an independent reviewer. Additionally, a questionnaire about the intubation procedure, basic characteristics of the patient, circumstances, environmental factors, and the provider's level of experience in airway management was filled out. Main outcome measures were FPS of tracheal intubation, overall success rate, overall intubation time, problems and complications of video laryngoscopy.

FPS rate was 87.6% and overall success rate 98.6%. Success rates, overall time to intubation, and subjective difficulty were not associated to the providers' expertise in airway management. In patients undergoing CPR FPS was 84.8%, in trauma patients 86.4% and in non-trauma patients 93.3%. FPS in patients with difficult airway characteristics, facial trauma/burns or obesity ranges between 87 and 89%. Performing airway management indoors or inside an ambulance resulted in a significantly higher FPS of 91.1% compared to outdoor locations (p < 0.001). Direct solar irradiation on the screen, fogging of the lens, and blood on the camera significantly impaired FPS. Several issues for further improvements in the use of video laryngoscopy in the out-of-hospital setting and for quality control in airway management were identified.

Airway management using the C-MAC video laryngoscope with Macintosh blade in a group of operators with mixed experience showed high FPS and overall rates of intubation success. Video recording emergency intubations may improve education and quality control.
citation Knapp J, Eberle B, Bernhard M, Theiler L, Pietsch U, Albrecht R. Analysis of tracheal intubation in out-of-hospital helicopter emergency medicine recorded by video laryngoscopy. Scand J Trauma Resusc Emerg Med 2021; 29:49.
type journal paper/review (English)
date of publishing 17-03-2021
journal title Scand J Trauma Resusc Emerg Med (29/1)
ISSN electronic 1757-7241
pages 49
PubMed 33731197
DOI 10.1186/s13049-021-00863-9