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airway management

patent airway

an airway (passage from nose or mouth to lungs) that is open and clear and will remain open and clear, without interference to the passage of air into and out of the body.


the throat


where the oral cavity joins the pharynx


where the nasal passages empty into the pharynx


structures surrounding the entrance to the trachea



glottic opening

entry point to the larynx


large leaflike structure protecting the glottic opening

vocal chords

curtainlike fibers that line either side of the tracheal opening; not only close shut for protection but also vibrate with the passage of air to create the voice

thyroid cartilage

shieldlike cartilage that protects the front of the larynx and form's the adam's apple

lower airway

comprised of the trachea, bronchial passages, and the alveoli

upper airwar

comprised of the nose, mouth, nasopharynx, oropharynx, and laryngopharynx

cricoid ring

1st of 16 cartilagenous rings that protext the trachea


point where the trachea branches off into the bronchi


ting sacs that occur in grapelike bunches at the end of the airway (where gas exchange occurs on the capillaries)

foreign bodies

include small toys and food, also blood and vomit.


common obstruction of airway

acute airway obstruction

choking on a foreign body, vomit, blood

obstruction over time

edema from burns, trauma, or infection; decreasing mental status


that contraction of smooth muscle that lines the bronchial passages that results in a decreased internal diameter of the airway and increased resistance to air flow


a high pitched sound generated from partially obstructed air flow in the upper airway

airway obstruction sounds

gurgling, gasping, crowing, wheezing, snoring, and stridor


severely restricted air movement in the upper airway. identified by high pitched, whistling sound when breathing. can be a foreign body or swelling of tissues in upper airway.


raspy voice as swelling builds up around vocal chords


sound of soft tissue of the upper airway creating impedance (or partial obstruction) to the flow of air.


sound of fluid obstructing the airway

mechanism of injury

one that can cause head, neck, or spine injury

head-tilt, chin-lift maneuver

a means of correcting blockage of the airway by the tongue by lifting the head back and lifting the chin. ised when no trauma, or injury, is suspected.

jaw-thrust maneuver

a means of correcting blockage of the airway by moving the jaw forward without tilting the head or neck. used when trauma, or injury, is suspected to open the airway without causing further injury to the spinal chord in the neck.

oropharyngeal airway

a vurved device inserted through the patient's mouth into the pharynx to help maintain an open airway.

nasopharyngeal airway

a flexible breathing tube inserted through the patient's nose into the pharynx to help maintain an open airway

gag reflex

vomiting or retching that results when something is placed in the back of the pharynx. this is tied to the swallow reflex.


use of a vacuum device to remove blood, vomitus, and other secretions or foreign materials from the airway.

3 rules of suctioning

1) always use appropriate infection control practices
2) suction for no longer than 10 seconds
3) place the tip or catheter where you want to suction and suction on the way out

special considerations for children

1) smaller nose and mouth
2) bigger tongue
3) narrower, flexible trachea
4) cricoid cartilage is less rigid and developed

components of suctioning

suction tip, suction catheters, collection container, container of sterile water, tubing

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