Created September 24, 2019, last updated 16 days ago.
Collection: 115, Score: 6, Trend score: 0, Read count: 7, Articles count: 7, Created: 2019-09-24 03:07:44 UTC. Updated: 2019-09-29 12:10:55 UTC.
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Review Meta Analysis
The unanticipated difficult airway is a potentially life-threatening event during anaesthesia or acute conditions. An unsuccessfully managed upper airway is associated with serious morbidity and mortality. Several bedside screening tests are used in clinical practice to identify those at high risk of difficult airway. Their accuracy and benefit however, remains unclear. ⋯ Bedside airway examination tests, for assessing the physical status of the airway in adults with no apparent anatomical airway abnormalities, are designed as screening tests. Screening tests are expected to have high sensitivities. We found that all investigated index tests had relatively low sensitivities with high variability. In contrast, specificities were consistently and markedly higher than sensitivities across all tests. The standard bedside airway examination tests should be interpreted with caution, as they do not appear to be good screening tests. Among the tests we examined, the upper lip bite test showed the most favourable diagnostic test accuracy properties. Given the paucity of available data, future research is needed to develop tests with high sensitivities to make them useful, and to consider their use for screening difficult face mask ventilation and failed intubation. The 27 studies in 'Studies awaiting classification' may alter the conclusions of the review, once we have assessed them.
What’s so interesting?
De Carvalho and co. show that pre-operative voice analysis can be predictive of difficult laryngoscopy.
I’d never thought about that...
The authors describe how different frequency components and acoustic qualities of the voice are, at least partly, determined by the shape and size of different anatomical areas of the vocal tract. By analysing the most intense frequencies (voice formants) within the voice spectrum they were able to correlate components with difficult laryngoscopy, namely Cormack & Lehane grade 3 or 4.
During pre-anaesthetic assessment, 467 elective general surgical patients were asked to pronounce each of the five vowels, corresponding to base phonemes. This was recorded on a smartphone and then later processed and analysed on a laptop computer.1
A model using voice ‘formants’ could reliably predict difficult laryngoscopy with a ROC-AUC of 0.761 (ie. 76% probability that it correctly classifies a patient as difficult or not). When combined with the modified Mallampati this improved to 92%.
The big picture
While interesting, it’s worth remembering that using voice formants (76%) did not perform as well as modified Mallampati alone (87%), and that this performance is also surprisingly much better than those from the most recent Cochrane meta-analysis (2018) of bedside airway assessment. Over 133 studies the Cochrane review reported a summary sensitivity of only 53% and specificity of 80% for the modified Mallampati (vs 100% and 75% respectively for this study).
Although this is an interesting and novel new test, it’s just not that simple... Screening for an uncommon outcome using tests with imperfect sensitivity and specificity is already problematic, but doubly so when we are not always certain which outcome we should be screening for (laryngoscopy, intubation, ventilation, oxygenation...).
As an airway screening test, voice analysis is both different and also more of the same.
It would also be feasible for recording, analysis and reporting to occur entirely at the bedside on a smartphone. ↩
Randomized Controlled Trial
In this study we investigated and compared the predictive values of different airway assessments tests including thyromental height measurement test, which has been recently suggested, in difficult laryngoscopy (Cormack and Lehane [C-L] scores 3 and 4). In addition, we compared the effectiveness of methods and C-L scores, by IDS, in terms of predicting difficult intubation. ⋯ The present study demonstrates the practicality of TMH as a digitalized test however the clinical benefits of TMH in daily medical practice are drawn into question. The additional variable of race may have had some bearing on this and further studies, larger in patient sample size, may need to use different methodology concerning age-, sex-, and race-dependent variables in evaluating these tests.
Accuracy of upper lip bite test (ULBT) has been compared with the Mallampati classification. In this study, we investigated whether the combination of the ULBT classification with sternomental distance (SMD), thyromental distance (TMD), and interincisor distance (IID) or a composite score can improve the ability to predict easy laryngoscopy and intubation compared with each test alone. ⋯ We conclude that the specificity and accuracy of the ULBT is significantly higher than the other tests and is more accurate in airway assessment. However, the ULBT in conjunction with the other tests could more reliably predict easy laryngoscopy or intubation.
Failed intubation is an important cause of anaesthetic-related maternal mortality. The purpose of this study was to determine the ability to predict difficult visualization of the larynx from the following preoperative airway predictive indices, in isolation and combination: modified Mallampati test, the ratio of height to thyromental distance and the Upper-Lip-Bite test. ⋯ The ratio of height to thyromental distance may prove a useful screening test for predicting difficult laryngoscopy in obstetric population.
The incidence of difficult intubation in patients undergoing general anaesthesia is estimated to be approximately 1-18% whereas that of failure to intubate is 0.05-0.35%.1,2,3 Various methods have been used for prediction of difficult laryngoscopy. Although, upper lip bite has been shown to be a promising test in its introductory article, repeated validation in various populations is required for any test to be accepted as a routine test. We have compared upper lip bite test (ULBT), modified Mallampati test (MMC) and thyromental distance (TMD) individually and in various combinations to verify which of these predictor tests are significantly associated with difficult glottic exposure. ⋯ We conclude that all three screening tests for difficult intubation have only poor to moderate discriminative power when used alone. Combinations of individual tests add some incremental diagnostic value.
Facemask ventilation is an essential part of airway management. Correctly predicting difficulties in facemask ventilation may reduce the risk of morbidity and mortality among patients at risk. We aimed to develop and evaluate a weighted risk score for predicting difficult facemask ventilation during anaesthesia. ⋯ The Youden index indicated a sum score ≥ 5 as an optimal cut-off value for prediction of difficult facemask ventilation giving a sensitivity of 85% and specificity of 59%. The DIFFMASK score indicated that a score of 6-10 points represents a population of patients who may require heightened attention when facemask ventilation is planned, compared with those patients who are obviously at a high- or low risk of difficulties. The DIFFMASK score may be useful in a clinical context but external, prospective validation is needed.
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