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Acad Emerg Med. 1996 Jan;3(1):34-40.

Oral intubation using a lighted stylet vs direct laryngoscopy in older children with cervical immobilization.

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Department of Pediatrics, Brown University School of Medicine, Providence, RI, USA.



To compare the tracheal intubation success rates of blind oral intubation using a lighted stylet vs standard of direct laryngoscopy in anesthetized pediatric patients wearing rigid cervical collars.


Seventy-eight children were randomly assigned to method of intubation (lighted stylet or direct laryngoscopy) and intubator; five patients were excluded after randomization. After sedation and paralysis, the patients were placed in rigid cervical spine collars to simulate intubating conditions for trauma patients. Three attempts at intubation were allowed. An observer recorded the following parameters during the procedure: 1) number of intubation attempts, 2) duration of each intubation attempt, and 3) complications. The intubators had limited prior experience with the lighted stylet technique.


Thirty-three patients were in the lighted stylet group and 40 were in the laryngoscopy group. The patients in the lighted stylet group required more attempts prior to successful intubation (2.2 vs 1.5, p < 0.01), and the success rate was higher for the laryngoscopy group (26/33 vs 39/40, p < 0.05).


Blind oral intubation using a lighted stylet under controlled conditions took longer than direct laryngoscopy. However, among those successful on the first intubation attempt, the times to intubation were not significantly different between groups (44.5 vs 52.9 sec). The lighted stylet technique is a viable alternative technique for intubating children who have concurrent cervical spine immobilization.

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