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Airway Management

Assessing Airway Patency

March 25th, 2020


  • How to Assess

  • If the patient is talking then this suggests that their airway is patent (however, this is not always the case)
  • Look, listen and feel for movement of air
  • Stridor (musical, high-pitched sounds) suggests upper airway obstruction
  • Snoring is a sign of airway compromise
  • Paradoxical abdominal movement is a sign
  • Causes of Upper Airway Obstruction

  • Soft tissue swelling - anaphylaxis, burns, peritonsillar abscess, epiglottitis, laryngotracheobronchitis (croup)
  • Foreign body aspiration
  • Deformity - laryngomalacia, laryngeal mass / web, tracheomalacia
  • Tongue enlargement / displacement
  • Vocal cord lesion / paralysis
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