3 years ago

The effect of virtual endoscopy on diagnostic accuracy and airway management strategies in patients with head and neck pathology: a prospective cohort study

Britta Millhoff, Desire N. Onwochei, Imran Ahmad, Kariem El-Boghdadly



There is growing evidence to suggest a deficiency in anesthesiologists’ diagnosis of airway pathology and subsequent airway management planning, and conventional instruments have not shown increases in safety. Virtual endoscopy (VE) is a tool that can detail intraluminal anatomical “fly-through” information in a format visually similar to the flexible endoscopic views familiar to anesthesiologists. We aimed to determine the effect of VE on diagnostic accuracy and airway management strategies when compared with conventional tools.


Clinical scenarios, along with computerized tomography (CT) imaging, were presented to 20 anesthesiologists, and structured questions were asked regarding diagnosis of airway pathology and airway management strategy. Virtual endoscopy videos were then provided and the questions were repeated. Following the CT and VE presentations, the anesthesiologists’ responses involving diagnostic accuracy and airway management strategy were compared between the CT and VE techniques. Answers relating to the utility of VE were also sought.


Diagnostic accuracy was 54.1% with CT alone and increased to 67.7% when VE was added (P = 0.007). In 48% of cases, the addition of VE to clinical history and CT led to changes in airway management strategy (P < 0.001), and 90.6% of these changes were deemed more cautious (P < 0.001).


Virtual endoscopy improves the accuracy in diagnosis of airway pathology when compared with CT alone. Furthermore, it leads to more conservative and potentially safer airway management strategies in patients with head and neck pathology.

Publisher URL: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12630-017-0929-6

DOI: 10.1007/s12630-017-0929-6

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