Oropharyngeal Airway - Basic info
What is Oropharyngeal Airway
An oropharyngeal airway is a medical device used to maintain or establish an open airway in a patient's throat. It is commonly used in emergency medicine, anesthesia, and intensive care settings. The oropharyngeal airway is designed to prevent or relieve airway obstruction by keeping the tongue away from the back of the throat.
The device consists of a curved plastic tube with a flange or a lip on one end and a handle on the other. It is inserted into the patient's mouth, passed along the tongue, and positioned in the oropharynx, which is the area at the back of the mouth and above the larynx.
The flange or lip of the oropharyngeal airway rests against the patient's lips or teeth, preventing the device from being fully inserted and ensuring that it remains in place. The handle serves as a grip for insertion and removal of the airway and also helps to keep the patient's mouth open.
The main purpose of an oropharyngeal airway is to prevent the tongue from falling backward and obstructing the airway. By keeping the airway open, it allows for unobstructed breathing and facilitates the delivery of oxygen and other gases during resuscitation, anesthesia, or other medical procedures. Oropharyngeal airways are available in various sizes to accommodate different patients, and selection is based on the individual's anatomical characteristics.
It's important to note that oropharyngeal airways should be used with caution in conscious or semiconscious patients who have an intact gag reflex, as insertion may trigger a gag reflex or cause injury. In such cases, other airway management techniques may be more appropriate.
The use of oropharyngeal airways requires proper training and expertise to ensure their safe and effective placement. Healthcare professionals, such as emergency medical personnel, anesthesiologists, and critical care nurses, are typically trained in airway management techni ques, including the use of oropharyngeal airways, to ensure the best possible patient outcomes.
How does Oropharyngeal Airway work
An oropharyngeal airway works by keeping the tongue away from the back of the throat, preventing it from obstructing the airway and allowing for unobstructed breathing. Here's how it works:
Insertion: The oropharyngeal airway is inserted into the patient's mouth with the curved end facing the roof of the mouth. It is passed along the tongue until it reaches the back of the throat.
Positioning: Once inserted, the flange or lip of the airway rests against the patient's lips or teeth, preventing it from being fully inserted. This ensures that the airway remains in place and does not enter the larynx.
Tongue displacement: The curved shape of the oropharyngeal airway helps to displace the base of the tongue forward, keeping it away from the back of the throat. This helps to maintain a clear passage for air to flow through.
Opening the airway: By displacing the tongue, the oropharyngeal airway helps to open the oropharynx, which is the area at the back of the mouth and above the larynx. This allows for better airflow and ventilation.
Facilitating breathing and oxygenation: With the airway open and the tongue kept forward, the patient can breathe more easily. The oropharyngeal airway allows for the delivery of oxygen and other gases, making it useful during resuscitation, anesthesia, or other procedures w here maintaining a clear airway is crucial.
It's important to note that oropharyngeal airways should be used with caution in conscious or semiconscious patients who have an intact gag reflex, as insertion may trigger a gag reflex or cause injury. Scious or undergoing general anesthesia, where The gag reflex is suppressed.
Proper sizing and insertion techniques are essential to ensure the effectiveness and safety of oropharyngeal airways. Healthcare professionals who are trained in airway management techniques are skilled in selecting the appropriate size and properly inserting the airway to optimize patient outcomes.
When is Oropharyngeal Airway suitable for
Oropharyngeal airways are typically suitable in the following situations:
Unconsciousness: Oropharyngeal airways are commonly used in patients who are unconscious or have a decreased level of consciousness. These may include patients undergoing general anesthesia, those who have experienced trauma, or individuals with altered mental status due to medical conditions.
Airway obstruction: Oropharyngeal airways are useful when there is a risk of airway obstruction or when the tongue is obstructing the passage of air. By displacing the tongue forward, the airway helps maintain an open and unobstructed pathway for breathing.
Assisted ventilation: Oropharyngeal airways are employed during assisted ventilation, such as manual bag-mask ventilation or mechanical ventilation. They assist in delivering oxygen and other gases effectively to the patient's lungs.
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR): In emergency situations where basic life support measures are required, oropharyngeal airways may be used to establish and maintain an open airway during CPR. They aid in ensuring efficient oxygenation and ventilation.
It's important to note that oropharyngeal airways are generally not suitable for conscious or semiconscious patients with an intact gag reflex. Inserting an airway in such individuals can stimulate the gag reflex and cause complications or discomfort. In these cases , alternative airway management techniques, such as Nasopharyngeal airways or non-invasive ventilation methods, may be more appropriate.
The decision to use an oropharyngeal airway should be based on a thorough assessment of the patient's condition, clinical judgment, and the expertise of healthcare professionals trained in airway management.
When should Oropharyngeal Airway not be used
Oropharyngeal airways should not be used in certain situations due to potential risks and complications. Here are some instances when oropharyngeal airways should be avoided:
Conscious or semiconscious patients with an intact gag reflex: Inserting an oropharyngeal airway in patients who are awake, alert, or have a functional gag reflex can trigger a gag reflex or cause discomfort and potential injury. In these cases, alternative airway management techniques should be considered.
Suspected or known upper airway trauma or obstruction: If there is a possibility of upper airway trauma or obstruction, such as a fractured larynx or significant swelling, inserting an oropharyngeal airway may worsen the injury or impede proper airflow. O the airway management strategies should be utilized instead.
History of temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction or injury: Individuals with a history of TMJ dysfunction or injury may experience worsened symptoms or pain upon insertion of an oropharyngeal airway. Alternative methods for airway management should be employed in such cases.
Suspected or confirmed basilar skull fracture: If there is a suspicion or confirmation of a basilar skull fracture, using an oropharyngeal airway may pose risks due to potential damage to the base of the skull. Alternative airway management approaches should be considered red.
Inadequate airway size or anatomical limitations: If the patient's oral anatomy or size does not permit the safe and effective use of an oropharyngeal airway, alternative airway management techniques should be used. This could include using a nasopharyn geal airway or employing other advanced airway interventions.
It's important to assess the patient's condition, airway anatomy, and individual factors before deciding on the appropriate airway management approach. Healthcare professionals with expertise in airway management should make these determinations to ensure patient safety and optimize out comes.
Following are our quality tracheostomy tubes for your reference.
- Oropharyngeal Airway Guedel Type Color Coded Smooth Integrated Design Disposable Medical Grade PVC
- Oropharyngeal Airway Berman Type Disposable Atraumatic One Piece Design Medical Grade PVC
- Something you need to know about Oxygen Mask 2023-05-30 10
- Oropharyngeal Airway - How to use 2023-05-24 28
- What is tracheostomy tube? 2023-04-27 71
- Something you need to know about Laryngeal Mask 2023-04-20 75
- Nasopharyngeal Airway 2022-09-26 283
- Disposable Infusion Set 2022-09-16 257
- Endotracheal tube 2022-08-05 219