The Future of Intubation

I recently taught the bougie station at an airway class for ED physicians. While there I got to sit in on an excellent airway lecture and play with some of the other airway devices in the hospital’s difficult airway cart.

There was a vendor there from King Systems helping demonstrate a new product of theirs called the AIRTRAQ.

It is a disposable optical laryngoscope that was amazingly easy to use even on the simulator mannequin’s difficult airways. I tend to be resistant to new gizmos, but I was impressed, as were the ED physicians who were introduced to it. The product is $80-$90 now, but will probably come down in the future.

Given that we already have EZ-IO needles that cost $90 a needle for emergency access, I don’t think it is unreasonable to see some EMS services stocking a device like this for difficult intubations. I understand some hospitals are using this device to such an extent that their new residents are not acquiring the skills of standard intubation.

I don’t know enough about the real life experiences of people using the device to be able to comment about drawbacks or how well it deals with airways full of secretions, etc. but I wouldn’t mind having one of these in my kit.

Check out some of the videos of the AIRTRAQ in use at the following link:

AirWay Video Library

I’d love to hear from any medics out there using this or similar devices.


By the way I have no affiliation or financial interest in this device or any other medical device I may write about it.


  • Shane says:

    Peter,Suffield I believe already has them online and I know we’re looking at getting them. I keep hearing the money issue so I believe that’s the holdup. I did have the opportunity to use the device at the Sim Lab in Hartford and it was a fantastic experience. Time to intubation for me wasn’t really faster, but I was able to intubate more successfully with the device. There were scenarios that I couldn’t intubate normally, but had success with the air traq. Hartford Hospital is working on funding for a pre hospital study to the best of my knowledge now that their internal ED study is complete.

  • PC says:

    Thanks for the info, Shane. I am going to ask about this device at the regional meetings this afternoon and find out what I can learn about them being used in the region. I’ll report back on what I find.PC

  • brendan says:

    Future of intubation? There is NO future of intubation. We haven’t proved we can handle it.

  • PC says:

    One doctor at a conference told his audience that if the literature on prehospital intubation was presented to the FDA, they would not allow paramedics to intubate. I do feel however that recent technological innovations, such as wave form capnography, the bougie, and this new AirTraq greatly improve our ability to handle the job and their significance may be reflected in future studies.thanks for the comment,PC

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