The results of the present study demonstrated no significant differences between the senior and junior anesthetists in either group. This indicated that the glottic exposure rate was the same for the same intubation devices and it was not affected by the level of experience. The amount of muscle relaxant and onset time is directly related to glottic exposure during tracheal intubation. The induction and administration of muscle relaxants in this study and the wait time after drug administration were consistent with the pharmacokinetics and previous studies in both groups (rocuronium 0.8 mg/kg; tracheal intubation performed after 90 s of rocuronium injection) [7, 8]. However, the percentage of patients with Wilson-Cormack-Lehane classification levels I-II of glottic exposure in the video laryngoscope group was 100%, which was higher than that in the direct laryngoscope group (63.5%). Even the percentage of patients with Wilson-Cormack-Lehane classification I-II by the junior anesthetist in the video laryngoscope group (100%) was also higher than that by the senior anesthetist in the direct laryngoscope group (64.4%), indicating that the video laryngoscope could effectively improve glottic exposure in the tracheal intubation of patients undergoing elective surgery. The above results were similar to those reported in the literature addressing video laryngoscope use for difficult airways and video laryngoscope use by novice operators [9,10,11]. The results demonstrated that the visual equipment also had the advantage of providing good glottic exposure in patients undergoing elective surgery.
Similar to the success rate of 93.6% for one-time intubation with video laryngoscope reported in a study by Ibinson et al. , our results demonstrated that the intubation success rate for one-time intubation in the video laryngoscope group (96.1%) was higher than that in the direct laryngoscope group with the senior anesthetist (90.1%). The total intubation success rate in the two trials of the video laryngoscope group was 100%, which was higher than that of the direct laryngoscope group (94.5%). When using the direct laryngoscope, after intubation was blocked, the intubation operator had to switch to a video laryngoscope to complete tracheal intubation in 7 cases. However, re-intubation could have been avoided if the video laryngoscope was used in the first attempt. Earlier studies reported that, despite the significant advantage of glottic exposure using the video laryngoscope, the limitation was that, even if the operator clearly observed the glottis, difficulties may occur when placing the endotracheal tubes ; however, appropriate limits on glottic exposure grading when using a direct laryngoscope may be better for tracheal intubation . The reason was that the opening of the oral cavity was reduced during intubation using the video laryngoscope and the operable space of the oropharynx was also narrowed while the angle adjustment of the catheter in the oropharyngeal cavity became more difficult. Some investigators have used special equipment, such as a fibrobronchoscope or Infrared Red Intubation System (IRRIS) equipment, to assist in video laryngoscope intubation, which achieved more ideal outcomes [14, 15]. However, the use of such equipment would result in an increase in complexity and cost of conventional intubation, which is not conducive to regular large-scale application. Systemic evaluations performed by Lewis et al. recognized the value of visual intubation devices in improving the success rate of intubation of difficult airways. However, they did not thoroughly analyze the differences in intubation success rates and the differences in postoperative complications of the different intubation devices for tracheal intubation in patients with non-difficult airways . To explore reasons for this, a large number of studies have instead focused on the following: 1) the comparison of different types of laryngoscopes in the treatment of airway conditions in selected settings such as in an emergency, in obese patients, during cardiopulmonary resuscitation, during double-lumen intubation, among others [17,18,19,20]; 2) the salvage value of the video laryngoscope after the first intubation failure ; or 3) the difference in dealing with difficult airways between selected special methods and the video laryngoscope .
In our study, 6 cases of oropharyngeal hemorrhage, 2 cases of lip injury, and 1 case of incisor injury occurred after intubation in the direct laryngoscope group. However, only 2 cases of lip injury occurred in the video laryngoscope group. With respect to complications on postoperative day 1, obvious sound change could be heard in 14 patients in the direct laryngoscope group but could be heard in only 5 patients (2.8%) in the video laryngoscope group. From an anatomical perspective, with the head in a natural position, the respiratory tract forms four axes that form angles with one another. When the head is tilted back, the pharynx axis, the laryngeal axis, and the tracheal axis become aligned, which is advantageous for opening the glottis directly. However, the increased tissue tension of the throat caused by lifting the mandible using the direct laryngoscope leads to throat damage by the intubation device and catheter. Many previous studies have demonstrated that the video laryngoscope exerts a lower lifting force on the mandible than a direct laryngoscope in both normal and difficult airways [23,24,25]. Thus, when the endotracheal tube is inserted effectively, it decreases tension in throat tissue and reduces the damage caused by tracheal intubation. Because the sample size calculation criteria in this study were based on the success rate of tracheal intubation as a standard, there was no significant difference in the incidence of serious complications. However, we believe that if the program expanded the sample size, it is highly likely that differences would emerge in the incidence of serious complications.
All 360 cases were included in the regression analysis, and glottic exposure classification and catheter shape angle were independent risk factors for ≥2 failures. Receiver operating characteristic curve analysis was performed on the measured values of the shape angle, with intubation failure as the state variable. The stratified analysis was performed using the largest Youden index corresponding to the shape angle (86.5°) as the critical point, of which the difference was statistically significant, prompting further binary logistic regression analysis. However, the type of laryngoscope itself was not a decisive factor in intubation failure. We believe that, regardless of whether a video laryngoscope, direct laryngoscope, or another type of visual intubation device is used, the success rate of intubation of non-difficult patients undergoing elective surgery can be increased as long as the level of glottic exposure can be improved. An excessively curved catheter may result in its inability to be adjusted within the mouth to face the glottis. In this case, the catheter must be removed for reshaping.
Similarly, laryngoscope types were not risk factors for postoperative complications and complications that lasted for ≥2 days. However, prolonged time of glottic exposure was an independent risk factor for postoperative complications and complications lasting > 2 days. In operations requiring tracheal intubation, the operator adjusts the position of the laryngoscope in the event of difficulty when the glottis is exposed. Similar to previous conclusions, we found that the longer the process, the greater the risk that the laryngoscope lens can damage the throat tissue. Therefore, any intubation device that can effectively shorten glottic exposure time can effectively mitigate the postoperative complications of intubation.
At the time of design, we randomly assigned the anesthetists’ seniority, hoping to analyze whether anesthetists with more extensive clinical experience demonstrated better intubation ability than junior anesthetists. Unexpectedly, however, there was no significant difference in the use of special equipment such as video laryngoscope, by senior or junior anesthetists to perform intubation of non-difficult patients. The one-time intubation success rates of the junior anesthetists were higher than that of senior anesthetists (97.7% versus 94.5%). This result revealed that the method of operation of the video laryngoscope was very different from that of traditional tracheal intubation. Without receiving extensive training, however, most physicians may still use methods for the direct laryngoscope when initially operating a video laryngoscope. With the availability of such equipment, senior anesthetists and junior anesthetists were essentially at the same starting point. Ambrosio et al. studied first-year resident physicians using the video laryngoscope to approach difficult airways. They found that after learning methods involving both the video laryngoscope and direct laryngoscope, the anesthetists were significantly better at using the video laryngoscope than the direct laryngoscope . Moreover, there were similar conclusions in the comparison of the two types of laryngoscopes among intern anesthetists . However, the results of the present study may have been affected by the volume of intubations performed, in that the junior anesthetists had more opportunities for clinical intubations in the country where the study was performed. Although their experiences were still not as extensive as the senior anesthetists, the junior anesthetists experienced a high frequency of clinical intubations. Therefore, this result may not apply in other countries or regions with low frequencies. However, it is worth noting that there is a direct correlation between the proficiency of an intubation device and its effect in use . In a national survey conducted in the United Kingdom, 91% of anesthesiology departments and 50% of intensive care units were equipped with video laryngoscopes in public hospitals; nevertheless, they were not prevalent in emergency or pediatric departments, or private hospitals . The promotion of visual intubation equipment should not be limited to operating rooms.
Our study had limitations. First, a regression equation was not calculated for the risk factors for video laryngoscope intubation to improve the efficiency of video laryngoscope intubation. Because the sample involved in this study were regional cases, anatomical data may not be applicable due to differences in ethnicity. Second, only abdominal surgeries were included in the study, which did not involve surgeries that may affect the airway, such as neck surgery and neurosurgery. Therefore, the results of this investigation may still require many follow-up studies to continue the validation analysis.