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NICE consults on new intubation device

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A device designed to help health professionals when there are unexpected difficulties in positioning a temporary tube (intubation) to keep the windpipe open could improve outcomes and patient safety across certain clinical settings, according to NICE.

The health authority recently opened consultation on its draft medical technology guidance for the Ambu aScope2, which supports the case for adopting the device for use in people with unexpectedly difficult airways needing emergency intubation.

Using video camera technology the thin, single-use, flexible endoscope, with an accompanying monitor, allows health professionals to see the wind pipe clearly. The breathing tube can then be correctly placed when intubating patients with difficult airways.

Each year, there are an estimated 22,000 cases in the UK where there are unexpected difficulties with endotracheal intubation in patients.

Professor Carole Longson, director of the NICE Centre for Health Technology Evaluation, said: “As well as noting advantages during replacement of dislodged tracheostomy tubes in the intensive care setting, the Committee’s further preliminary recommendation is that making the Ambu aScope2 available for use across certain clinical settings is likely to improve outcomes and improve patient safety.”

“The Committee also accepted that, based on cost modelling, the device is likely to save costs across a range of clinical settings and circumstances.”

The Ambu aScope2 is considered to be an acceptable alternative when a multiple-use fibre optic endoscope is unavailable.

Endotracheal intubation may be needed when a general anaesthetic is given, as there can always be unexpected difficulties when intubating a patient.

However, there are conditions which can increase the difficulty, including where the patient is obese, has limited mouth opening or cervical spine movements, has experienced trauma to the face or neck, has respiratory tract infections or cancers. In these cases, the Ambu aScope2 could prove very useful.

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