1. A natural passage for air to enter and exit the lungs.
2. A device to prevent or correct an obstructed respiratory passage, esp. one inserted into the trachea and used during anesthesia or cardiopulmonary resuscitation. An open airway is essential to oxygenation and ventilation. Methods for opening the airway are described in the following entries: cardiopulmonary resuscitation; chin-lift airway technique, head tilt; jaw thrust; and tracheostomy. The following subentries highlight commonly used airways in advanced cardiac life support.
SEE: jaw thrust
Descriptive text is not available for this imageIf a patient has a mechanism of injury involving potential trauma to the clavicles or above, the airway should be opened only with the jaw thrust maneuver.

Combitube airway

A trademark for a dual-lumen airway consisting of a tracheal tube linked to an esophageal tube. It may be inserted blindly into the oropharynx as an airway control device when an endotracheal tube is not available or when tracheal intubation with direct visualization of the vocal cords is difficult or challenging.

conducting airway

1. Any portion of the respiratory tract, extending from the inner tip of the nose to the terminal bronchioles, that channels air in and out of the lungs but does not directly participate in the exchange of gases.
2. An artificial airway.

difficult airway

An airway that is challenging or impossible to intubate. Intubation is increasingly difficult in: older patients, patients with head or neck trauma, obese patients, and patients with craniofacial abnormalities.

esophageal gastric tube airway

ABBR: EGTA SEE: Esophageal obturator airway.

esophageal obturator airway

ABBR: EOA An airway device, formerly used in emergency medical service (EMS) systems, consisting of an esophageal tube with a 37-cm long tube attached to a mask. To be effective, the device requires an airtight mask seal on the patient’s face. A balloon at the distal end of the tube is inflated following blind insertion into the esophagus. The device reduces the likelihood of regurgitation and aspiration of stomach contents and indirectly ventilates the lungs.
Descriptive text is not available for this imageMost emergency service agencies have replaced this device by more-advanced airway devices.

SYN: SEE: esophageal gastric tube airway

laryngeal mask airway

ABBR: LMA An airway that can be blindly inserted into the hypopharynx when advanced airway control is needed during procedures that require brief anesthesia. It consists of a flexible airway tube with a proximal cuff, which holds the middle of the tube in place at the base of the tongue, and a distal cuff to fix the end of the tube in the trachea.
Descriptive text is not available for this imageIt should not be used in patients at high risk of aspiration.

SYN: SEE: laryngeal tracheal airway

laryngeal tracheal airway

ABBR: LTA SEE: Laryngeal mask airway.

nasopharyngeal airway

ABBR: NPA A soft, flexible, uncuffed tube placed through the nasal passages so that the distal tip rests in the nasopharynx. It is used to maintain the free passage of air to and from the lungs in patients with facial trauma or lockjaw or in nearly comatose patients who are breathing spontaneously. Before the tube is inserted, the proper length is determined by comparing it to the distance from the tip of the patient's nose to the earlobe. The diameter should match that of the patient's pinkie. Nasopharyngeal airways are often used by respiratory therapists to reduce the trauma from repetitive nasotracheal suctioning.
SYN: SEE: nasal trumpet

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NASOPHARYNGEAL AIRWAY A nasopharyngeal airway in proper position
Descriptive text is not available for this imageBleeding from the nasopharynx may occur during emergency placement of this airway.

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oropharyngeal airway

ABBR: OPA A curved plastic device used to establish an airway in a patient by displacing the tongue from the posterior wall of the oropharynx. The device should be equal in length to the distance from either the corner of the mouth to the earlobe or the center of the mouth to the angle of the jaw. It has a flange on the end that remains outside the mouth to keep it from being swallowed or aspirated. This device is used only in unconscious patients who do not have a gag reflex.SEE: cardiopulmonary resuscitation;

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OROPHARYNGEAL AIRWAY An oropharyngeal airway in place
Descriptive text is not available for this imageThe cervical spine of an unconscious patient should be stabilized before the airway is inserted to reduce the likelihood of spinal cord injury and paralysis.

supraglottic airway

SEE: Supralaryngeal airway.

supralaryngeal airway

A device used as an alternative to tracheal intubation in the ventilation of the critically ill patient. It contains both an esophageal and a tracheal lumen and may be inserted without visualization of the vocal cords.
SYN: SEE: supraglottic airway