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Anesth Analg. 2010 Sep;111(3):649-52. doi: 10.1213/ANE.0b013e3181e5ea7c. Epub 2010 Jun 25.

Computational modeling and prototyping of a pediatric airway management instrument.

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  • 1Department of Anesthesiology. University of Michigan Health System, 1H247 UH, SPC 5048 1500 East Medical Center Drive, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-5048, USA.



Anterior retraction of the tongue is used to enhance upper airway patency during pediatric fiberoptic intubation. This can be achieved by the use of Magill forceps as a tongue retractor, but lingual grip can become unsteady and traumatic. Our objective was to modify this instrument using computer-aided engineering for the purpose of stable tongue retraction.


We analyzed the geometry and mechanical properties of standard Magill forceps with a combination of analytical and empirical methods. This design was captured using computer-aided design techniques to obtain a 3-dimensional model allowing further geometric refinements and mathematical testing for rapid prototyping.


On the basis of our experimental findings we adjusted the design constraints to optimize the device for tongue retraction. Stereolithography prototyping was used to create a partially functional plastic model to further assess the functional and ergonomic effectiveness of the design changes. To reduce pressure on the tongue by regular Magill forceps, we incorporated (1) a larger diameter tip for better lingual tissue pressure profile, (2) a ratchet to stabilize such pressure, and (3) a soft molded tip with roughened surface to improve grip.


Computer-aided engineering can be used to redesign and prototype a popular instrument used in airway management. On a computational model, our modified Magill forceps demonstrated stable retraction forces, while maintaining the original geometry and versatility. Its application in humans and utility during pediatric fiberoptic intubation are yet to be studied.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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