Semler MW, Janz DR, Russell DW, Casey JD, Lentz RJ, Zouk AN, deBoisblanc BP, Santanilla JI, Khan YA, Joffe AM, Stigler WS, Rice TW; Check-UP Investigators.; Pragmatic Critical Care Research Group..; Chest. 2017 May 6. pii: S0012-3692(17)30881-4.

BACKGROUND: Hypoxemia is the most common complication during endotracheal intubation of critically ill adults. Intubation in the ramped position has been hypothesized to prevent hypoxemia by increasing functional residual capacity and decreasing the duration of intubation, but has never been studied outside of the operating room.

METHODS: Multicenter, randomized trial comparing ramped position (head of the bed elevated to 25 degrees) to sniffing position (torso supine, neck flexed, head extended) among 260 adults undergoing endotracheal intubation by Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine fellows in four intensive care units between July 22, 2015 and July 19, 2016. The primary outcome was lowest arterial oxygen saturation between induction and two minutes after intubation. Secondary outcomes included Cormack-Lehane grade of glottic view, difficulty of intubation, and number of laryngoscopy attempts.

RESULTS: The median lowest arterial oxygen saturation was 93% [IQR 84-99%] with ramped position versus 92% [IQR 79-98%] with sniffing position (P = .27). Ramped position appeared to increase the incidence of grade III or IV view (25.4% vs 11.5%, P = .01), increase the incidence of difficult intubation (12.3% vs 4.6%, P = .04), and decrease the rate of intubation on the first attempt (76.2% vs 85.4%, P = .02).

CONCLUSIONS: In this multicenter trial, ramped position did not improve oxygenation during endotracheal intubation of critically ill adults compared to sniffing position. Ramped position may worsen glottic view and increase the number of laryngoscopy attempts required for successful intubation.

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