To the Editor
Recently during direct laryngoscopy for an elective case, the laryngoscope’s light bulb unexpectedly failed. A flashlight smartphone app (“Assistive Light Widget” for Android, similar to iPhone “Flashlight”) was immediately activated on the attending’s smartphone and used as an alternative light source without interrupting the laryngoscopy. The attending held the smartphone to the right of the resident’s head so that the view of the patient’s larynx (as demonstrated in the manikin simulation in Fig. 1) was not interrupted. Due to the wide angle of the flashlight, the larynx was well viewed, and tracheal intubation was easily performed.
Smartphones are carried by most attending physicians in our department in the pockets of scrubs and are thus immediately available, always charged, and their flashlight application can be switched on with no external power source. This is in contrast to other compact external light sources available in the operating room (such as flashlights) that are bulkier, require regular maintenance and checks, or have to be plugged into a power source. Even if spare batteries or laryngoscopes are available, their use requires laryngoscopy to be abandoned.
This case represents an important positive use of nearly ubiquitously available smartphones, usually considered a nuisance and/or a distraction in the operating room.
Alexander Avidan, MD
Ruth Shaylor, BMBS, BMedSci
Phillip D. Levin, MB BChir
Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine
Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center
Hebrew University Hadassah School of Medicine