Innovative Approach to Reducing Time to Intubate Difficult Airways

Benn Horrisberger

Publish Date:

December 31, 2022

Endotracheal intubation (ETI) is the gold standard of airway management. Doctors routinely perform them in the operating room, emergency department, or clinics worldwide. The procedure's value is well established as it allows placing a conduit into a patient's airway to assist with ventilation when the patient cannot do so on his own. Although the technique is a potentially life-saving skill, when performed incorrectly, endotracheal intubation can be life-threatening. 

Practitioners faced with clinical cases of pediatric advanced life support, advanced trauma, or cardiac life support must be proficient at performing intubations safely and effectively. However, despite their mastery, extensive experience, and training, even the most qualified doctors can encounter airway management challenges when facing unexpected difficult airway cases. Therefore, finding innovative solutions to improve first-pass success rate and reducing intubation time is critical to minimize complications and improve patient outcomes. 

Prolonged Intubation Attempts Increase Risk Of Complications

When critically ill patients require intubation, the procedure often becomes challenging due to patient- or physician-related factors, making the intubation high-risk, with the potential for severe complications. Patient-related factors include physiologic derangements, making airway visualization and tracheal tube placement particularly challenging. When this occurs, the patient's ability to tolerate prolonged attempts at laryngoscopy will decrease, resulting in an increased incidence of hypoxemia and hemodynamic deterioration. Physician-related factors can also make a straightforward airway management case difficult. Lack of experience, incorrect device selection, and wrong pharmacologic choices can ruin the odds of successful intubation on the first attempt. 

As you can see, prolonged or repeated attempts increase the incidence of complications. So that's why the first attempt success and reduced intubation time should be the airway management goal in these patients. 

Physicians Seek Innovative Approaches To Address Challenges Of Speed And Multiple Attempts 

A recent survey involving 251 medical professionals showed that securing airway control and having the right equipment at hand are the top goals of most physicians when managing difficult airways. The survey, which included 103 anesthesiologists, 50 emergency room doctors, 96 Certified Nurse Anesthetists, and 2 advanced registered nurse practitioners in critical care, also revealed that in the vast majority of the cases, the difficulty is caused by visualization (70%) followed by challenge navigating (20%).

When participants were asked about the most important benefits they sought in a new stylet or bougie, they said the following:

  • Reducing time to intubate difficult cases (78%)
  • Reducing the proportion of multiple attempts (73%) 
  • Reducing the number of devices required to intubate a difficult airway (47%)
  • Increasing confidence when approaching intubation that might be difficult (43%)
  • Lessen the learning curve for new intubation clinicians (9%)
  • Negate the need to pre-identify difficult intubations (5%)
  • Reduce the risk of infection/cross-contamination (4%)

Reducing intubation time and the proportion of multiple attempts were by far the most sought-after benefits. 

QuickSteer Reduces Time To Intubate And Improves First Pass Success

With the recent market entry of QuickSteer, physicians finally have access to an innovative medical device designed to reduce overall intubation time and improve first-pass success rate. QuickSteer allows clinicians to place the tip of the intubation aid through the vocal cords safely and fast.

With its intuitive, articulating, and atraumatic soft tip, this innovative device eliminates the impact of user skill or experience. In addition, one of the most significant features of QuickSteer is its full, 180-degree, bi-directional articulation with retroflexion (S-Curve) capability, which improves first-pass intubation success. 

Watch this video to see QuickSteer™ in action. 

Ready to learn more? Connect with a customer service team member by calling 763.330.2162 or emailing

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