The present invention relates to laryngoscopes, and relates particularly to laryngoscopes to assist incubation of a tracheal tube.
Insertion of a tracheal tube is an important procedure in providing an airway to an anesthetist prior to a surgical operation. Tracheal tubes also often need too be inserted in an emergency situation into the airway of an unconscious patient by paramedics or doctors. Insertion of a tracheal tube requires significant skill, and laryngoscopes are generally used to assist the insertion of the tube by restraining the patient's tongue and allowing a clear view of the larynx and the entrance to the trachea. Considerable skill and care is required in carrying out this procedure in order to avoid damage to the patient's teeth and soft tissue of the throat.
A known laryngoscope is disclosed in QS Patent No 5036835. This known laryngoscope comprises an elongate-blade for insertion into the patient's mouth and which is attached in use to a handle extending generally at right angles to the blade such that the blade and handle lie generally in the same plane.
Most, if not all, prior art laryngoscopes are of the type described above in which the blade and handle lie generally in the same plane. These known laryngoscopes suffer from the drawback that because the blade and handle occupy the same plane, the user's hand obscures the view into the patient's throat, making the laryngoscope more difficult to use. In addition, known laryngoscopes are usually stored in a folded condition in which the handle extends generally parallel to the blade. This frequently results in the drawback that blood and other body fluids on the blade come into contact with the handle, causing a risk of cross contamination when the handle subsequently comes into contact with the sterilized blade) thus potentially transferring infection between patients. In addition to the above disadvantages, prior art laryngoscopes often require a series of blades of different sizes to accommodate different sizes of patient.
Preferred embodiments of the present invention seek to overcome the above disadvantages of the prior art.
According to the present invention, there is provided a laryngoscope comprising a body portion having a receiving portion for receiving an elongate blade adapted to be inserted into a patient's mouth, and a handle pivotably connected to said receiving portion about an axis and spaced apart from said receiving portion in the directionof said axis, wherein when a blade is received in said receiving portion, the handle is pivotable about said axis between a folded condition in which the handle extends substantially parallel to the blade, and a working condition in which the handle extends substantially transversely to said blade.
By providing a handle which is spaced in use from the blade in the direction of the pivot axis, this provides the simultaneous advantages of providing a less obstructed view into the mouth of the patient when in use, thus making the laryngoscope easier to use, while also avoiding contact between the blade and the handle when in the folded condition, thus minimising the risk of cross contamination when the laryngoscope is in the folded condition.
In a preferred embodiment, the position of at least one said blade in use relative to the receiving portion is adjustable in at least one orientation of the handle relative to the blade between said working and folded conditions.
This provides the advantage that the effective length of the blade in use can be adjusted so that a set of separate blades of different lengths is not required.
The blade in use is preferably gripped by said receiving portion in said working condition.
The receiving portion preferably further comprises cam means and a set of jaws for gripping a said blade, wherein movement of said handle about said axis from said working condition to at least one orientation between said working and folded conditions moves said jaws further apart.
This provides the advantage that in moving the handle to the working condition, the jaws automatically grip the blade to hold it in position, while automatically releasing the blade as the handle is moved to the orientation between the working and folded conditions.
The blade may be gripped by said receiving portion in said folded condition.
By also gripping the blade in the folded condition, this provides the advantage that movement of the blade in the folded condition is minimised, thus minimising the risk of the blade coming into contact with contamination.
In a preferred embodiment, movement of said handle from said at least one orientation into said folded condition moves said jaws closer together.
The laryngoscope preferably further comprises at least one said blade.
The laryngoscope preferably further comprises illumination means including a light source located in at least one said blade.
In a preferred embodiment, the light source is located remotely from the distal end of said blade, and the laryngoscope further comprises light guide means for directing light from said light source to a location adjacent the distal end of the blade.
By separating the light source from the distal end of the blade by means of light guide means, this provides the advantage of minimising the risk of the patient being burned by the light source.
The laryngoscope may further comprise a power supply provided in the body portion for supplying electrical power to said light source.
The laryngoscope preferably further comprises a plurality of electrical terminals provided on at least one said blade for connecting said light source to said power supply.
The handle may have a coating of elastomeric and/or polymeric material.
In the case of an elastomeric material such as rubber, this provides the advantage of facilitating cleaning of the handle, thus minimising the risk of dirt being harboured in the handle.