Millions of patients each year have breathing tubes inserted through their vocal cords and into their lungs to assist with ventilation. This procedure is called endotracheal intubation (ETI), and it is utilized in combat casualty situations, civilian emergencies, and during elective surgical procedures. ETI is often performed under critical and stressful circumstances and by operators with a wide spectrum of skill levels. Thousands of these patients experience death or other serious complications associated with the procedure. In modern combat, ETI is the most common prehospital airway intervention, yet airway compromise remains one of the leading causes potentially preventable combat death and ETI failure rates are as high as 18%. Seconds matter when it comes to getting oxygen to the heart and brain, so operator difficulty translates directly into patient complications. First pass success during airway securement is essential. Operators insert breathing tubes (endotracheal tubes or ETT's) using a device that exposes the vocal cords (a laryngoscope) and a removable stiffening stylet that's inserted into the ETT. Increasingly, video-assisted laryngoscopes are being utilized, resulting in enhanced exposure of the vocal cords. However, despite better views of the cords video laryngoscopy has not resulted in a disruptive improvement in airway management success. We've identified the anatomic and ergonomic factors that interfere with successful ETI. By applying a user feedback-based iterative design process we've designed a novel stylet technology which aims to make ETI faster, safer, and easier.

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