When you are sedated or unable to breathe, very often a breathing tube will be inserted to provide you with oxygen. The procedure to do this is called intubation, and typically uses a laryngoscope to open the mouth wide to provide for a clear insertion of the tube.
As you can imagine, sometimes it is hard to put the tube in the right place, with the throat branching into the lungs and stomach. Additionally, in some people, the throat is hard to properly align or get a good look down, which makes insertion of the breathing tube hard.
Since intubation is done when a patient needs help with breathing, time delay can cause issues.
Recent innovations have focused on the idea of a video laryngoscope. The concept is simple. Include video capability at the tip of the laryngoscope, so that an image is sent out of what is going on inside the throat.
At the moment, there are two main ways to do so. One is by having video taken at the tip and transmitted electronically to a monitor. The other is to use fiber optics and optical transmission.
There are several advantages to using a video laryngoscope. It provides a clearer view which can make difficult intubations easier and speed up regular intubations.
This is particularly important in the rising context of obesity. It can be an effective learning tool, to teach the procedure quicker than otherwise might happen. In particular, the critical care environment can benefit from the improved speed and accuracy of the intubation.
There are several features that are important to include in a video laryngoscope.
First, and most importantly, it needs to be accessible to doctors. A doctor who has performed a significant amount of regular intubations will not be comfortable with a device that has a steep learning curve. Either it needs to click quickly, or it will be put aside.
Additionally, it needs to incorporate flexibility. There are a wide range of situations that require intubation, and a video laryngoscope should ideally work in as many as possible. Some designs allow for adjustment which can also improve procedure performance.
Technically, it needs to incorporate a variety of elements, including blade design. It is also sometimes important to have anti-fog mechanism. If the video laryngoscope becomes foggy, it is likely to have limited use.
In general, it should be lightweight and easy to handle, as well as costing a minimum. Current video laryngoscopes are priced as high as $10,000+, while a normal one costs around $200. For a hospital, such a price difference is tremendous.