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Airway management: Head-tilt chin-lift, jaw-thrust, suctioning, oral airway, nasopharyngeal airway

Airway management: Head-tilt chin-lift, jaw-thrust, suctioning, oral airway, nasopharyngeal airway

Airway management refers to the various techniques and procedures used to maintain or restore a person's airway, which is the passage through which air flows into and out of the lungs. Proper airway management is essential for ensuring that a person can breathe properly and receive adequate oxygen.

The four main techniques used in airway management are head-tilt chin-lift, jaw-thrust, suctioning, and the use of oral or nasopharyngeal airways.

Head-tilt chin-lift: This technique is used to open the airway of an unconscious patient by tilting their head back and lifting their chin forward. This opens up the space between the tongue and the back of the throat to allow for easier breathing. It is important to note that this technique should not be used on patients with a suspected neck or spinal injuries as it can cause further damage.

Jaw-thrust: This technique is similar to head-tilt chin-lift but does not involve moving the head or neck. Instead, it involves pushing down on both sides of the lower jaw while pulling up on both sides of the upper jaw toopen up the airway.

Suctioning: Suctioning involves using a device called a suction catheter to remove any secretions from a patient’s mouth or nose that may be blocking their airway. This can help improve oxygenation and ventilation.

Oral Airway: An oral airway is a device inserted into a patient’s mouth that helps keep their tongue from falling back into their throat and blocking their airway. If other techniques fail, it can also help maintain an open airway during CPR.

Nasopharyngeal Airway: A nasopharyngeal airway is similar to an oral airway but is inserted through one nostril instead of through the mouth. It helps keep secretions out of the lungs and maintains an open pathway for oxygenation and ventilation.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a LifeVac choking device?

The LifeVac is a non-powered, non-invasive, one-time-use-only airway clearance device designed to revive a victim with an airway obstruction when standard choking treatments have been tried. A one-way valve on the LifeVac prevents air from entering a choking sufferer as they descend. The LifeVac was created to be simple to operate. So if you're alone and have a choking emergency, you can use LifeVac on yourself. This kit is non-prescription and works for both adults and children. In addition, LifeVac is safe and efficient because the suction lasts for a brief time.

If an object is blocking the infant's airway, is it recommendable to still do CPR?

Performing CPR is only recommended if the infant is unconscious. If the choking infant is conscious, perform 5 back blows and 5 chest thrusts to dislodge the object. Perform CPR if the infant loses consciousness while you are trying to dislodge the object.

How can CPR help an infant suffering from complete airway blockage?

CPR is a lifesaving procedure that can save the baby's life if the infant becomes unconscious due to complete airway obstruction. Compressing the infant's chest can expel a foreign object from the airway.

When giving rescue breaths, does the unconscious person have to open their mouth when we have to breathe?

During rescue breathing, the unconscious person has to open their mouth to ensure that the air you breathe will reach the lungs. You will see the chest rise if the rescue breathing is effective. If not, you need to open the airway again using a head tilt/chin lift and give another rescue breath.

When performing CPR on an infant, does the compression for cardiac arrest the same as the compression for choking?

The CPR ratio for cardiac arrest is the same as for choking. The recommended compression to ventilation ratio for infant 1 rescuer is 30:2. Which means you need to give the infant 30 chest compressions, followed by 2 rescue breaths. If two rescuers are present, the ratio will be 15 compressions to 2 breaths. The only difference is when you are trying to relieve choking, you always need to check the airway after compressions and remove the object if it is visible before you give rescue breaths.


  • American Heart Association, “Adult Basic Life Support & Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation Quality”, Accessed June 11 2021
  • National Health Service UK, “Jaw Thrust Technique”, Accessed June 11 2021
  • Australian Resuscitation Council, “Airways Management During CPR” Accessed June 11 2021
  • Mayo Clinic Staff “Oral Airway Insertion” Accessed June 11 2021 https://www.mayoclinicproceedingsinnovationsqualitysafety2020;4(1):e11–e17
  • UpToDate Patient Information “Nasopharyngeal Airways During Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation” Accessed June 11 2021 https://www.uptodatepatientinformationarticlescardiacarrestnasopharyngealairwaysduringcardiopulmonaryresuscitation