Archive December 2016 XVII, No. 12

The Latest and Greatest in Anesthesia

The American Society of Anesthesiologists annual meeting was jam-packed with innovative tools and products.

Jim Burger

Jim Burger, Senior Editor


The sprawling exhibit floor at the annual meeting of the American Society of Anesthesiologists in Chicago was so large that we called on the expertise of 3 anesthesiologists to help us cover it. Here's a look at some of the more interesting and compelling displays, as seen through their eyes.

Our ASA Product Review Panel

Jaime Baratta, MD

Jaime Baratta, MD, director of regional anesthesia at Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia.

Eugene Viscusi, MD

Eugene Viscusi, MD, a professor of anesthesiology and the director of acute pain management at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia.

Ashish Sinha, MD, PhD, DABA, MBA

Ashish Sinha, MD, PhD, DABA, MBA, vice chair of anesthesiology and perioperative medicine at Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia.

Medtronic McGrath video laryngoscope EASY CONTROL The Medtronic McGrath video laryngoscope is light enough to manage with 3 fingers.

McGrath MAC video laryngoscope
This device, designed to make video laryngoscopy more affordable, combines a traditional Macintosh blade with video technology and an ergonomic design — attributes that impressed Philadelphia anesthesiologist Ashish Sinha, MD, PhD, DABA, MBA.

"We don't need larger screens — we need better screens," says Dr. Sinha. "The image is an appropriate size and it's clearer than some other devices. The handle is lighter and more ergonomic. You can manage it with 3 fingers, so it lets you have finesse rather than power — and finesse, not power, is what we need for intubations 99% of the time."

Another attractive feature: The proprietary battery, which lasts for 250 minutes, provides a minute-by-minute countdown of its remaining life, instead of diminishing percentages or shrinking lines.

Medtronic was offering a special at the conference — $2,500 for the video laryngoscope handle, 5 lithium ion batteries and 2 boxes of disposable blades (with a choice of size). The goal is to have the scope be financially within reach for every OR, explained one of the reps.

"Our first look should be with a video laryngoscope," says Dr. Sinha. "The flip side of that argument is people say we might lose our ability to do direct laryngoscopy. But maybe we don't need to worry about that."

Airway EX VIRTUAL TASK TRAINER Airway EX lets you practice difficult maneuvers and effectively visualize scope configuration of medical devices.

Level EX
Airway EX
This virtual surgery app ( lets physicians practice intubating difficult airways on their mobile devices. With life-like simulations based on real-life cases anesthesiologists have submitted to the company, providers can practice decision-making and maneuvering through and around challenging pathologies and other airway issues. Make a bad move and the simulation can even cough out the scope. The app is free and can be used to earn CME credits — though you have to pay for those.

"It's a nice simulation program," says Dr. Sinha. "They can create a simulation of a rare event, like a tumor in the airway, and let practitioners practice on scenarios they're not ordinarily going to see. Ideally, you don't want to have to deal with something like that for the first time in an OR setting, if it is possible to practice it without the sphincter-tightening that may be associated with a real live situation."

It would be nice, says Dr. Sinha, if you could simply create your own model with an MRI scan and be able to practice in virtual reality with every potentially challenging patient who crosses your path. That capability may be coming down the road. One minor drawback is that with the simulation you use your fingertips, not your thumb and wrist: "It's a visual aid not a tactile aid," he says.

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