The Magill forceps is a right-handed instrument. It is angled in two planes which allows for it to be used in the oro- and hypoharynx under direct vision during laryngoscopy.
The most common application of this instrument is to maneuver the ET tube in nasal intubations. The Magill forceps is used to pick up the ET tube in the posterior oropharynx and place its tip into the laryngeal inlet. The forceps' grip surface is serrated and care must be taken not to rupture the cuff when maneuvering the ET tube. Ideally the endotracheal tube should therefore be held with the forceps just proximal to the cuff. For the same reason only airway equipment and not tissue should be maneuvered with the forceps as significant trauma and bleeding can result.
The Magill forceps can also be useful in clearing foreign bodies from the upper airway in anesthetized or unconscious patients.
Another use of the device is in placing and removing throat packs.