BACKGROUND: Endotracheal intubation (ETI) is a procedure widely performed for several clinical indications. In typical ETI, an endotracheal tube is placed into a patient's trachea with the help of a malleable metal rod covered with a clear plastic sheath (called a stylet). However, another intubation aid, a bougie (also named a gum elastic bougie or endotracheal tube introducer), was also introduced in the clinical setting to improve the efficacy of conventional ETI.

METHODS: This study performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials to compare the efficacy of bougie and stylet approaches in ETI. PubMed, Embase, and Cochrane Library databases were searched for studies published before November 2018. Randomized controlled trials comparing the clinical outcomes of bougie and stylet approaches in patients who underwent orotracheal intubation were included. Meta-analyses were conducted by using a random effects model, and treatment efficacy was measured by evaluating the first-attempt success rate and intubation duration.

RESULTS: A total of 5 randomized controlled trials and 1,038 patients were included. Although a bougie resulted in a better first-attempt success rate, no significant difference was observed between the approaches (risk ratios, 1.03; 95% confidence interval, 0.85-1.24). Moreover, no significant differences were observed in the intubation duration and esophageal intubation rate between the bougie and stylet approaches.

CONCLUSION: Endotracheal intubation performed with a bougie was not superior over ETI performed with a stylet. Therefore, intubation approaches should be selected by considering personal preference and clinician expertise.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Systematic review and meta-analysis, level II.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)902-908
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 1 2019


  • Endotracheal intubation
  • bougie
  • endotracheal tube introducer
  • orotracheal intubation
  • stylet

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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