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Airway management

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VOL: 97, ISSUE: 42, PAGE NO: 41

PHIL JEVON, RESUSCITATION OFFICER, MANOR HOSPITAL, WALSALL

To ensure adequate ventilation during cardio-pulmonary resuscitation, prompt assessment of the patient's airway is essential, together with effective airway management. It may not be possible to restart an arrested myocardium without adequate oxygenation (Resuscitation Council (UK), 2000).

To ensure adequate ventilation during cardio-pulmonary resuscitation, prompt assessment of the patient's airway is essential, together with effective airway management. It may not be possible to restart an arrested myocardium without adequate oxygenation (Resuscitation Council (UK), 2000).

Following a cardiac arrest, a patient's airway can easily become obstructed, as the tongue and surrounding soft tissues are frequently displaced backwards, blocking the airway at the pharynx. Other causes of airway obstruction include vomit, blood, secretions and a foreign body.

The head tilt/chin lift manoeuvre (illustrated in this Part) is an effective method of opening an airway and relieving obstruction in 80% of patients (Simons, 1999).

The jaw thrust is an alternative method of opening the airway, but it can be extremely difficult to perform if only one practitioner is present.

It is essential to evaluate the effectiveness of any interventions to open and clear the airway. Use the look, listen, feel method (see 'Initial assessment', October 11). If simple methods fail to open the airway, more advanced methods, for example, tracheal intubation, will be required (see future issues).

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