|Also not a discussion of the utter nonsense shown in this picture.|
On the other hand, I started with the Mac #3 as a new medic, but quickly became a "The-#4-Mac-has-never-let-me-down" kinda guy. Still am, even as an ER doc.
Candid confession - I have no talent for the Miller
I'll be honest though. One of the chief reasons I'm a "#4 Mac guy" is that I never learned to use the Miller effectively.
Sure, people say that "It's better for peds," or "It's better for trauma intubations." But I've had trouble sweeping the tongue with the tiny flange when I used it like a Mac, placing it on the right side, and trying to move the tongue to the left.
Placing it in the midline was even worse; I had no control of the oropharynx, and the tongue would just flop around. And it didn't even make sense to me - if moving the tongue with a curved blade didn't give me the view I needed, why would smooshing the tongue help?
|A completely mythical view of the cords.|
Paraglossal approach with the Miller
There are some variations, but they all start with proper positioning of the head and neck, either in "sniffing position," as with your medical patients, or in neutral, in-line stabilization for your trauma patients.
Much like a Mac, you place the blade into the corner of the mouth, and advance it along the groove between the tongue and the tonsil ("paraglossal"). Then, however, things go a little differently.
Levitan, on his excellent AirwayCam website, describes the paraglossal approach:
"Proper position is achieved with straight blades by deliberately directing the blade to the right paraglossal space. No tongue should be present to the right of the blade. Full insertion of the blade should occur through the right lateral mouth, over the molar dentition, and while the distal blade may then be directed medially, the proximal blade should never be brought back towards the midline, otherwise it will hit the central incisors.
After the epiglottis edge is identified, the handle must be tilted forward (e.g., the tip moves backward, toward the posterior hypopharynx). The blade is then inserted slightly farther (~1-2 cm), and the tip passed under the epiglottis. Once the epiglottis is “trapped” under the blade tip, the blade is rocked slightly backward (handle brought slightly more upright) and then the lifting force increased."
|Note that the blade is to the right of the nose, and that the ET tube runs under (not through) the blade lumen.|
Here's a drawing of the technique, from a key article by Henderson:"Tube delivery should be done using the extreme right corner of the mouth, and come up from below the line of site. An adult tube will not fit through the lumen of a Miller blade (and should not be attempted)."
|Blade stays on the right side of the nose.|
Does it work?
A study from 2010 in China confirmed the benefits of this technique. The title says it all: Prevention of dental damage and improvement of difficult intubation using a paraglossal technique with a straight Miller blade. Of course, we don't care that much about teeth when TSHTF, but it's a nice touch.
Another study (download here), done in 2008 in Canada, also showed that you could get a better view with this technique than with the standard curved-blade approach. There is also a great discussion about the history of laryngoscopes, and how we ended up with the current designs.
Better view - but more difficult to place the tube?
One trade-off of this better view may be that it is harder to actually place the tube.
In the 2003 paper "Straight blades improve visualization of the larynx while curved blades increase ease of intubation," Spanish anesthesiologists noted that use of a Macintosh blade, while providing an inferior view of glottis, nonetheless made it easier to place the tube. (Download)
Of course, if you don't have gottic view in the first place, it's going to be hard to place the tune
The Bottom Line
So, while the future of EMS ET intubation is a matter of much discussion, the need to be proficient in various techniques is not. Anybody who checks a set of blades at the start of a shift should know a number of techniques for using them. Hope this helps!