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Respiratory Exam

Respiratory Effort

July 1st, 2020
On this page:Respiratory Muscles


Increased work of breathing, or respiratory distress, suggest that the patient is having significant difficulty breathing that requires immediate assessment and management.
  • Look For

  • Conscious state - distress / agitation / decreased consciousness
  • Speech - phrases → words → none
  • Face - nasal flaring, pursed lips
  • Accessory muscle use
  • Recession - intercostal recession, subcostal recession
  • Tachypnoea
  • Tachycardia

Respiratory Muscles

  • Muscles Used at Rest

  • Diaphragm - flattens itself
  • External intercostals - move ribs up and out
  • Exhalation occurs passively at rest.
  • Inspiratory Accessory Muscles

  • Sternocleidomastoid
  • Scalenes
  • Expiratory Accessory Muscles

  • Internal intercostals
  • Abdominal muscles - rectus abdominis, internal and external obliques, transversus abdominis
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