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Oral airway: Airway management, intervention, patency, obstruction, size

Oral airway: Airway management, intervention, patency, obstruction, size

Oral airway management is an important part of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). An oral airway is a device used to maintain an open airway in a patient who is unconscious or has difficulty breathing. It is inserted into the mouth and helps keep the tongue from blocking the throat, allowing for easier breathing.

Intervention: The insertion of an oral airway should be done as soon as possible after the patient becomes unresponsive. It should be done by trained personnel with appropriate equipment and supplies. The size of the oral airway should be chosen based on the patient’s age and size, with larger sizes being used for adults and smaller sizes for children. The device should be lubricated before insertion to reduce discomfort and trauma to the patient’s mouth.

Patency: Once inserted, it is important to ensure that the oral airway remains patent (open) at all times. This can be done by periodically checking that there are no obstructions in the way of airflow through the device. If any obstruction is found, it must be removed immediately to ensure proper patient ventilation.

Obstruction: Obstructions can occur for various reasons, such as secretions, vomit, or foreign objects in the mouth or throat. In addition, if not properly secured in place, an oral airway can become dislodged during CPR chest compressions or other movements of the head and neck, which can lead to obstruction of airflow through it.

Size: Choosing an appropriately sized oral airway is essential for successful management during CPR. Generally speaking, adult patients require larger sizes than children; however, this may vary depending on individual body size and shape, so it is important to assess each patient individually when selecting an appropriate size.

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  • American Heart Association (2020). Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR). Retrieved from
  • National Institutes of Health (2020). Airway Management During Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR). Retrieved from