Glidescope intubation (also referred to as video laryngoscopy) is often compared to the direct laryngoscopy procedure. Some physicians enthusiastically support the use of Glidescope intubation / video laryngoscopy as the best practice in almost every case, but there is also evidence to support the use of direct laryngoscopy in certain circumstances.
Glidescope intubation was ultimately developed because some hospitalists and emergency physicians were not satisfied with direct laryngoscopy’s ability to provide a reliable and consistent view for endotracheal intubation.
Glidescope intubation’s advantages compared to direct laryngoscopy are numerous and include a higher success rate compared to direct layrngoscopy – this is particularly true in more challenging cases. Glidescope intubation is typically preferred in cases where you have to perform an awake intubation or a non-paralyzed intubation. Glidescope intubation also has a lower chance of an inadvertent esophageal intubation.
Direct laryngoscopy’s advantages include that the procedure is more easily performed in a variety of locations in which Glidescope equipment may be difficult to transport. Direct laryngoscopy may also be more practical if the procedure needs to be performed outdoors or in natural sunlight – the Glidescope monitor may experience some issue with glare from natural light.
Physicians who are very experienced and skilled in direct laryngoscopy may find the Glidescope method counterintuitive to what they’re accustomed to using with the direct method. Regardless of which method is preferred by a particular physician or midlevel provider, all clinicians practicing emergency medicine or hospital medicine need to be capable using either method.
If you’re a physician practicing emergency medicine, a nurse practitioner, physician assistant, or a medical student considering the emergency medicine field, then it is valuable to understand the various approaches and options available.
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