The PioneersThe MilitaryReferences


Robert Arden Miller 1906- 1976

Robert Miller was born in 1906 in Pennsylvania, and obtained a medical degree in Ohio in 1929. Robert Miller like so many others of his generation saw service during the WW2 and he served with the Army as a Captain. Robert Miller was the designer of the Miller blade laryngoscope that is in common use today (more so in the USA). He was not the first to use a laryngoscope as the German Alfred Kirsten designed one in 1896. Chevalier Jackson produced the first workable model in 1913.  This Chevalier Jackson design however was extremely bulky and dangerous and there was one known fatality caused by a spark from one whilst the patient was given Ether. 276

Ivan Magill had also put into use his  design in the early 20s and this was popular certainly with the British Anaesthetists at that time. It contained its own batteries and was thus more portable than the others at the time. These like all other scopes were rigid at the time.

The folding scopes started to appear during the latter part of the WW2 with several of the great names in anaesthesia on both sides of the Atlantic contributing. Miller produced the straight bladed version with a longer blade and a well designed end to enable a less traumatic intubation. The straight Miller blade is inserted deep into the oro-pharynx, past the epiglottis.  Providing sufficient lifting force in parallel with the handle, yet avoiding posterior rotation that causes the blade to press against the teeth.

 After the war he developed his design further by introducing a paediatric version.

Although this particular laryngoscope is mainly kept on the difficult intubation trolley in UK hospitals, it is still used by some anaesthetists. The common laryngoscope in this country is still the Macintosh design.