October 16, 2012
Fiberoptic Laryngoscopy: Yes, There's an App for That
A study presented during the ANESTHESIOLOGY™ 2012 annual meeting has shown that an iPhone application called iLarynx™ was so effective at simulating fiberoptic bronchoscopy that when app-trained students eventually used a real bronchoscope on a manikin, they completed the procedure in less than half the time than students exposed only to anatomy photos. Also, their failure rate was reduced by more than 80 percent.
iLarynx™ creator Raymond Glassenberg, M.D., Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, stressed the importance of extensive training and excellent hand-eye coordination when using a flexible bronchoscope, which is used by anesthesiologists to navigate breathing tubes past delicate anatomy such as the vocal chords.
“This app is a realistic, 3-D, interactive simulation of a very important procedure, which was designed for a new generation of anesthesiologists who grew up playing Nintendo,” said Dr. Glassenberg. “The app provides a feel for what we do in the hospital, and it very closely resembles the real world.”
Dr. Glassenberg, along with his son (a video game developer), created iLarynx™ to use the same functionality iPhones and iPads use for driving games and navigation apps. Dragging a finger along the screen allows the user to feed a simulated scope into a patient’s digital airway. Cutting-edge graphics create an ultra-realistic experience; for instance, a misstep causes the virtual patient to cough as the glass fogs over from the patient’s digital “breath.”
The free iLarynx™ app has been downloaded more than 15,000 times and was recognized by the Society for Obstetric Anesthesia and Perinatology with a “Best in Education” award.
“Attendance at an airway workshop can cost around $500, airway manikins sell for approximately $2,000 and virtual reality simulators cost $50,000 and require a designated simulator facility,” said Dr. Glassenberg. “Our app has been shown to be a highly effective learning tool, which can be used by anyone anywhere in the world – for free.”