The predictive value of the height ratio and thyromental distance: four predictive tests for difficult laryngoscopy

Banjong Krobbuaban, Siriwan Diregpoke, Sujarit Kumkeaw, Malin Tanomsat
Anesthesia and Analgesia 2005, 101 (5): 1542-5
Preoperative evaluation of anatomical landmarks and clinical factors help identify potentially difficult laryngoscopies; however, predictive reliability is unclear. Because the ratio of height to thyromental distance (RHTMD) has a demonstrably better predictive value than the thyromental distance (TMD), we evaluated the predictive value and odds ratios of RHTMD versus mouth opening, TMD, neck movement, and oropharyngeal view (modified Mallampati). We collected data on 550 consecutive patients scheduled for elective-surgery general anesthesia requiring endotracheal intubation and then assessed all five factors before surgery. An experienced anesthesiologist, not apprised of the recorded preoperative airway assessment, performed the laryngoscopy and grading (as per Cormack and Lehane's classification). Difficult laryngoscopy (Grade 3 or 4) occurred in 69 patients (12.5%). RHTMD had a higher sensitivity, positive predictive value, and fewer false negatives than the other variables tested. In the multivariate analysis, three criteria were found independent for difficult laryngoscopy (neck movement < or =80 degrees; Mallampati Class 3 or 4, and RHTMD > or =23.5). The odds ratio (95% confidence interval) of the RHTMD, Mallampati class, and neck movement were 6.72 (3.29-13.72), 2.96 (1.63-5.35), and 2.73 (1.14-6.51), respectively. The odds ratio for RHTMD was the largest and thus may prove a useful screening test for difficult laryngoscopy.

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