Background: To evaluate digital tracheal intubation (DTI) when compared to laryngoscope-assisted TI; finger palpation of endotracheal tube (ETT) tip position when compared to any standard method.
Design: A systematic review of Medline, Embase, CENTRAL, and CINAHL with synthesis of data using meta-analysis was performed.
Main outcome measure: The proportion of successful TI and correct ETT tip positioning were the main outcome measures.
Results: Five studies (one observational study and four RCTs) enrolling 310 neonates were included. 94% (81%-98%) of the DTI were successful on the first attempt (certainty of evidence [CoE]: low). The proportion of successful intubation on the first attempt was higher with DTI when compared to laryngoscope-assisted TI (RR 95% CI: 1.81 [1.18; 2.76]) (CoE: very low). Time to successful TI with DTI was 7.4 (95% CI: 6.3, 8.5) s (CoE: low). Time to successful TI was significantly shorter with DTI when compared to laryngoscope assisted TI (MD [95% CI]: -4.9 [-7.3, -2.4] s) (CoE: very low). There was a trend towards a higher proportion of correct ETT tip positions with finger palpation when compared to weight-based formulae alone (RR 95% CI: 1.12 [0.96; 1.31]) (CoE: very low).
Conclusions: DTI and finger palpation to ascertain ETT tip position in neonates are promising strategies. Future studies with emphasis on their learning trajectory and generalizability are needed.