Increased body mass index per se is not a predictor of difficult laryngoscopy

Tiberiu Ezri*, Beniamin Medalion, Marian Weisenberg, Peter Szmuk, R. David Warters, Ilan Charuzi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: We investigated the association between morbid obesity and difficult laryngoscopy (DL). Methods: In a prospective, controlled study we evaluated the impact of different variables on the prediction of DL in 200 morbidly obese (study group-SG), and 1,272 non-obese (control group-CG) patients undergoing elective surgery. Variables assessed included age, sex, body mass index (BMI), protruding, loose, and missing upper teeth, thyro-mental distance, temporo-mandibular joint (TMJ) function, neck extension, and Mallampati class. A Cormack grade III or IV was considered DL. Results: The SG patients were younger (P < 0.000), there were more females in the SG (P < 0.000) and more in the SG had teeth problems (P = 0.026). More patients in the SG (10% vs 1%), had obstructive sleep apnea (P < 0.001) with 90% of them in the SG having a grade III laryngoscopy. High BMI did not affect the laryngoscopy difficulty (P = 0.56). Multivariable regression analysis revealed that morbid obesity, increased age, male sex, pathology of TMJ, and higher Mallampati class, were independent predictors of DL. When interaction between the predictors and the group was added to the multivariable model, the SG was no longer a predictor by itself, rather its association with abnormal upper teeth turned to be significant for prediction of DL. Conclusions: Increased age, male sex, TMJ pathology, Mallampati 3 and 4, a history of obstructive sleep apnea and abnormal upper teeth were associated with a higher incidence of DL. The magnitude of BMI had no influence on difficulty with laryngoscopy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)179-183
Number of pages5
JournalCanadian Journal of Anaesthesia
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2003


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