Immediate Life Support (ILS)- Healthcare

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Managing the airway

Video 28 of 95
4 min 21 sec
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Managing a Patient's Airway: Techniques and Tools

Recognizing Airway Problems

Before addressing airway management, it's crucial to identify whether an airway issue exists. Our ears play a vital role in this. Listen for abnormal sounds such as squeaking, rustling, or gurgling, as they may indicate an obstructed or impending airway problem.

Basic Airway Techniques

Let's explore simple yet effective techniques for opening a patient's airway using just our hands:

  • 1. Mandible and Jaw Angle Identification: Start by locating the patient's mandible and jaw angle. Use this to open the mouth and check for obstructions. Remove any obstructions without pushing them further back.
  • 2. Jaw Thrust Maneuver: If the airway remains partially obstructed, perform a jaw thrust maneuver. Place two fingers under the jaw angle and the heel of your hand on the cheekbone, then push the jaw forward to clear the tongue from the oral pharynx.
  • 3. Triple-Airway Maneuver: If needed, employ the triple-airway maneuver by using your thumbs to open the mouth and tilt the head back. This is effective for partially occluded airways and provides a clear view into the oral pharynx.

Using Suction Tools

Various suction tools are available to clear obstructed airways, especially in cases involving vomit, blood, or saliva:

  • 1. Handheld Suction Device: Utilize a handheld suction device to visualize the back of the airway. Insert the suction catheter down as far as you can see and suction for a maximum of 10 seconds to remove any obstructions. Clearing the airway results in quiet breathing.
  • 2. Flexible Suction Catheter: This catheter is useful in moving vehicles where rigidity may cause soft tissue damage. It can also suction the nasal cavity and the inside of airway devices.
  • 3. Hospital Suction Device: Hospitals often use vacuum pumps connected by tubing at the head end of the bed. While effective for various fluids, they can become easily occluded if the patient vomits.

Remember to exercise caution and professionalism when performing airway management procedures.