Maintaining an airway
DOI link for Maintaining an airway
Maintaining an airway book
Maintaining an airway is a life-saving procedure with which all doctors should be familiar. Though airway experts are part of the crash call team, the staff in the ward is expected to manage the airway until help arrives. Obstruction of the upper airways may be partial or complete. In the unconscious patient, this is generally due to loss of pharyngeal muscle tone. It may also be caused by vomit, blood from trauma, or by a foreign body. Laryngeal obstruction may be caused by trauma, inflammation or burns. After recognising airway obstruction, the next step is to relieve it. The main manoeuvres used are as follows: head tilt, chin lift, and jaw thrust. If the patient is not breathing despite an open airway, artificial ventilation must be started. Mouth-to-mouth and pocket-mask ventilation are options, but in a hospital setting one would generally have access to a self-inflating bag and mask.