Airway Management of Patients with Suspected or Confirmed COVID-19: Survey Results from Physicians from 19 Countries in Latin America

The COV2-VIAEREA Network Study Group

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Airway management during the COVID-19 pandemic has been one of the most challenging aspects of care that anesthesiologists and intensivists face. This study was conducted to evaluate the management of tracheal intubation in patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 infection. This is a cross-sectional and international multicenter study based on a 37-item questionnaire. The survey was available to physicians who had performed intubations and tracheostomies in patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 and had provided informed consent to participate. The primary outcome is the preference to use a specific device for tracheal intubation. Secondary outcomes are clinical practice variables, use of video laryngoscopes, difficult airway management, and safety features to prevent cross-infection. This study included 2411 physicians who performed an average of 11.90 and 20.67 tracheal intubations in patients diagnosed or suspected of having COVID-19 disease, respectively. Physicians were mainly from the specialties of Anesthesiology (61.2%) and Intensive Care (7.4%). COVID-19 infection diagnosed by positive PCR or serology in physicians participating in intubation in this study was 15.1%. Respondents considered preoxygenation for more than three minutes very useful (75.7%). The preferred device for tracheal intubation was the video laryngoscope (64.8%). However, the direct laryngoscope (57.9%) was the most commonly used, followed by the video laryngoscope (37.5%). The preferred device to facilitate intubation was the Eschmann guide (34.2%). Percutaneous tracheostomy was the preferred technique (39.5%) over the open tracheostomy (22%). The predicted or unpredicted difficult airway management in these patients was preferably performed with a video laryngoscope (61.7% or 63.7, respectively). Intubation was mostly performed by two or more expert airway physicians (61.6%). The use of personal protective equipment increased the practitioners’ discomfort during intubation maneuvers. The video laryngoscope is the preferred device for intubating patients with COVID-19, combined with the Eschmann guide, flexible stylet within the endotracheal tube, or Frova guide to facilitate intubation. The sub-analysis of the two groups of physicians by the level of intubation experience showed a higher use of the video laryngoscope (63.4%) in the experts group and no significant differences between the two groups in terms of cross-infection rates in physicians, in their preference for the use of the video laryngoscope or in the number of intubations performed in confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number4731
JournalJournal of Clinical Medicine
Issue number16
StatePublished - Aug 2022


  • COVID-19 patients
  • Latin American countries
  • airway devices
  • airway management
  • cross-infection
  • tracheal intubation
  • video laryngoscope

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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