Background and objective: Intubation of the trachea has been a risky cross-contamination procedure over the past decade because no perfect decontamination procedures exist. Infectious agents found on laryngoscopic devices have the potential for devastating spread of the human immunodeficiency virus, hepatitis viruses B and C and transmissible non-conventional agents. The purpose of this prospective observational study was to assess the quality of endotracheal intubation with disposable laryngoscope blades, under normal intubating conditions.
Methods: Anaesthetists were asked to complete daily questionnaires regarding the difficulty of intubation experienced using the Vital View® disposable laryngoscope blade (Vital Signs Inc, Totowa, NC, USA). The choice of the type of blade (conventional or disposable blade) for the first attempt at intubation depended only on the operating room assignment. Glottic visualization during laryngoscopy was assessed by the modified Cormack and Lehane classification. Difficult tracheal intubation was evaluated by the intubation difficulty scale (>5, procedure involving moderate to major difficulty).
Results: The anaesthetic staff recorded 219 intubations. One hundred-and-nineteen of first attempts at laryngoscopy were with disposable blades (DB group) and another 100 with conventional blades (CB group). There were no significant differences between the two groups for Cormack and Lehane score 3, for intubation difficulty scale scores >5 and for intubation difficulty scale score 0. There were 12 blade changes before successful intubation.
Conclusions: In routine use, the Vital View® disposable laryngoscope blade appears to be an efficient device because it does not modify the ease of endotracheal intubation in most cases. Nonetheless, it may be advisable to maintain conventional laryngoscopes in reserve for difficult intubations.