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Endotracheal Intubation

what you’ll find here

This space is organized to bring you the most essential knowledge first. Getting started is as simple as scrolling down, or go directly to the content by using the links below๐Ÿ‘‡

The First RuleThe Mantra
Find LandmarksOptimize View
Access TracheaGuided Practice
Related ContentMasterclass
The first rule of laryngoscopy

The first rule of laryngoscopy? Don’t plunge and pray. If you dive in thinking that your goal is to find the cords, then you will overshoot important anatomic landmarks that can guide you safely to your target. Overshooting those landmarks in a moment of stress is all too easy, and will lead to disorientation and bad results. These two videos provide great examples of what we are talking about.

It helps to have a mantra

Okay what’s the best way to avoid overshooting our target? It helps to have a mantra: one that forces us to slow down and think about the little steps that help get us to our ultimate goal. Review our mantra here and then say it to yourself with each intubation until it becomes your mantra. “Uvula points the way to the epiglottis…”

Hold it light and low

Before anything else. Learn how to hold the laryngoscope correctly. Hold it in your non-dominant hand, and for improved fine motor control hold the device lightly at the base of handle. This will allow you to place the blade in the mouth gently without overriding the important anatomic landmarks. It will also allow you better control structures like the tongue and guide the tip of the blade into the vallecula.


what it looks like

1 Step one of laryngoscopy is sometimes called “epiglottoscopy” to highlight the point that the goal at this stage of the procedure is to identify the epiglottis not the cords. This is because once the epiglottis is identified, the intubator can be assured that the larynx (and the trachea beyond it) are just posterior to that epiglottis.

Key anatomy reviewed

a mantra expert

No one is better at teaching this progressive laryngoscopy mantra than @TBayEDguy Yen Chow. Build your learning network and follow him on Twitter for regular hits of great airway learning.

laryngeal exposure – get your preferred view

2 Once you have identified your important landmarks it’s time to get the view of the glottic opening you want. It’s important to remember that when using a video laryngoscope getting the best view my not be the preferred view depending on the device you are using to intubate, but we will get into that later. For now, during your hands on training sessions try to get at least a 50% view of the cords. We will show you some techniques on how to do that here.

Important anatomy

The most important gesture in laryngeal exposure is seating the blade in the vallecula and engaging the hyoepiglottic ligament. This is what it looks like.

knowledge- leveraged ๐Ÿ’ช.

Let a knowledge of clinical anatomy work for you! This is an example of what usually occurs when you perform this maneuver correctly. This resource is from 5MinuteAirway Take a deeper dive on this topic with this post, and then add them to your learning network.

troubleshooting valleculoscopy

A great post from AIME on how to do valleculoscopy right.

What’s your next move

After valleculosopy, External Laryngeal Manipulation (ELM) is the second of the critical skills for laryngeal exposure that you should have in your toolkit. Simply place your free hand on the larynx and apply gentle downward pressure. Move left or right until you get your best view. โœ‹

dive deep on ELM

Want to really understand the nuances of this skill? Visit 5MinuteAirway for some more great airway knowledge and don’t forget to add them to your learning network.

Tracheal access & tube delivery

3 Once you have your preferred view of the glottic opening it’s time to access that trachea and deliver the tube. This can be done with either a styletted endotracheal tube or a tube introducer like the bougie. This requires some understanding of stylet shaping, tube introducers, and how the different types of laryngoscopes work that is a topic all by itself, but we give you the essentials here.

Stylet shaping 101

Tubes are just big floppy pieces of soft plastic. Great for gas exchange, but by themselves are difficult to place. Plenty of evidence exists to tell us that first pass success rates go up if you use one. Here is a quick review of how to insert and shape one for optimal results. If you want more you can dive deeper by entering below ๐Ÿ‘‡

the bottom line

  • Don’t plunge & pray!
  • Use a methodical and progressive laryngoscopy technique
    • Find your landmarks (epiglottoscopy)
    • Expose the larynx (valleculoscopy)
    • Deliver the tube
  • Learn the optimization techniques within each of these steps to improve your intubation success
related content

You could stop here but why would you. Dive into some of the related content here, make sure to visit our guided practice stations for hands on training, or get feedback from our expert coaches. Just scroll down for more ๐Ÿ‘‡

VL pearls

Another great demonstration by AIME on the proper placement of the laryngoscope into the vallecula.

are you a primate?

After tube delivery you need to safely remove the stylet without bringing the tube with it! Here is a great tip by Jose Torres MD Another great FOAMEducator. โœ‹

Curate foamed
Curated FOAMED – dive deeper

One of the great FOAMED talks on the progressive laryngoscopy apprroach by @AIMEairway

which one is right for you

the power of VL amplified


For in person learners, locate any of the posters below within the installation to continue your training. Then snap the QR codes embedded within them to access the learning space. Look for the โœ‹emoji for integrated hands on training opportunities.

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