Respiratory Monitoring Devices: Looking Back, Looking Forward
Dan White // March 1, 2011
Today, two different types of disposable laryngoscope blades exist: conventional disposables and fiber optic disposables.
Conventional blades transmit power from a battery handle through a wire to a lamp on the end of the blade. Fiber optic blades transmit light from a bulb in the handle through a light fiber to the end of the blade.
Conventional disposable blades come in two different varieties. They have either an incandescent or LED-type lamp on each blade. They will work on any conventional handles conforming to ISO 7376.1-2002 specifications.
Conventional battery handles have metal contacts that transmit current through a wire to a bulb or LED at the tip of each blade.
LEDs have some advantages over bulbs. On a disposable laryngoscope blade, LEDs make a great deal of sense. They deliver a bright and uniform white light using less battery power while producing less heat.
When you shine most flashlights on the wall, you will notice a shadow in the center of the light circle. The filament inside the bulb casts this shadow.
During intubation, the clinician wants an even light in their field of view. Since LEDs don't have a filament, they don’t have this shadow, and project an even and uniform light.
They also generate very little heat compared to a traditional bulb. But that does not mean disposable blades with standard incandescent bulbs are still not a good option.
The first popular disposable laryngoscope blade was the Rusch Lite Blade. The Lite Blade is a completely synthetic blade with a bright conventional bulb. Some years ago, the curved blades in the series were significantly improved. They became very strong and featured a low-profile E-Mac design preferred by EMS.
Hartwell Medical offers the BrightView Disposable Laryngoscope Blade. The BrightView offers a real metal blade, fully compatibility with conventional handles. The blades are color-coded, for rapid identification. They come in a full range of sizes and are very price competitive.
Truphatek produces the EquipLite Laryngoscope Blade. The EquipLite is a steel conventional blade, with an LED light. It offers a solid handle and blade connection with outstanding illumination. It, too, is color-coded, so you can find the blade you are looking for quickly.
Another Truphatek LED disposable is the TruLite Laryngoscope. The TruLite is a one-piece handle and blade combination. You toss the whole thing when you are done. It is perfect for tactical or wilderness applications, and is great for stocking disaster trailers.
A new one-piece disposable handle and blade combination is the Laryngobloc. The Laryngobloc is a single-use, fiber optic LED laryngoscope. It features a reusable inner light cartridge and a one-piece disposable blade with integrated handle. While it is polypropylene plastic, it is by no means weak.
Disposable fiber optic blades don't have thousands of tiny glass fibers that carry the light photons like a reusable fiber optic blade. They typically use a single acrylic light transmission fiber.
A popular disposable fiber optic blade is the SunMed Greenline-D. The GreenLine D has a disposable metal blade with an acrylic light fiber to transmit the light from the bulb in the handle to the end of the blade. They are available in every size and both Miller and Mac styles. They are also available in the excellent pediatric Robertshaw style.
Rusch offers the Rusch Lite Disposable. It is designed to work on any fiber optic handle and features a steel blade and heel.
Disposable fiber optic users would also be well advised to carry two handles. The only source of light in the laryngoscope is in the handle; if it fails, none of your blades will light.
The only way to achieve some measure of redundancy in case a bulb burns out is to carry two handles. One way to improve your disposable fiber optic blade performance is to use a brighter handle.
The Truphatek GreenLED is an ergonomic fiber optic handle with a silicone grip. It uses a very bright LED light source and carries an impressive five-year warranty.
These are some of the main features of today’s modern disposable laryngoscopes. Hopefully, this outline will help you make a more thorough comparison of your disposable options. By comparing performance and price, you can best match your equipment to your expectations and budget.