Online ACLS Course

Chapter 5 : Airway techniques

It is imperative to know the proper usage of the equipment and techniques necessary for the management of various cardiac problems.

Basic Airway Tools and Techniques

Oropharyngeal Airway (OPA): used in patients whose airway might be obstructed by the tongue or relaxed upper airway muscles. This device is only used in unconscious patients, but not in conscious or semiconscious patients where it could stimulate gagging or vomiting.

Video Demonstration

Airway Techniques
  1. Ensure there is no blood or vomit in the pharynx by using the rigid pharyngeal suction
  2. Find the proper size OPA by placing the OPA against the side of the patient’s face. The tip of the OPA should be at the corner of the mouth and the flange at the angle of the mandible
  3. Insert the OPA as it curves upward towards the roof of the mouth
  4. When the tip reaches the back of the tongue past the soft palate, rotate the airway 180 degrees so the tip is towards the throat
  5. Push the airway slowly until the flange sits on the patient’s lips
oropharyngeal airway opa
oropharyngeal airway

Note: Use appropirate size for the OPA. OPAs that are too big will obstruct the larynx or may cause trauma. OPAs that are too small may push the tongue back and obstruct the airway.

Nasopharyngeal airway (NPA):  used as an alternative to OPAs and can be used in conscious or semiconscious patients. NPAs are usually inserted when inserting OPAs is difficult or dangerous.

  1. Find the appropriate size NPA by checking the distance from the tip of the patient’s nose to the earlobe
  2. Lubricate the airway
  3. Put the airway through the nostril in a backwards direction toward the floor of the nasopharynx