Basic Airway Technique

Please purchase the course before starting the lesson.

Inserting an OPA

STEP 1: Clear the mouth of blood and secretions with suction if possible.

STEP 2: Select an airway device that is the correct size for the person.

  • Too large of an airway device can damage the throat.
  • Too small of an airway device can press the tongue into the airway.

STEP 3: Place the device at the side of the person’s face. Choose the device that extends from the corner of the mouth to the earlobe.

STEP 4: Insert the device into the mouth so the point is toward the roof of the mouth or parallel to the teeth. • Do not press the tongue back into the throat.

STEP 5: Once the device is almost fully inserted, turn it until the tongue is cupped by the interior curve of the device.

Inserting a NPA

STEP 1: Select an airway device that is the correct size for the person.

STEP 2: Place the device at the side of the person’s face. Choose the device that extends from the tip of the nose to the earlobe. Use the largest diameter device that will fit.

STEP 3: Lubricate the airway with a water-soluble lubricant or anesthetic jelly.

STEP 4: Insert the device slowly, moving straight into the face (not toward the brain).

STEP 5: It should feel snug; do not force the device into the nostril. If it feels stuck, remove it and try the other nostril.

Tips on Sunctioning

  • When suctioning the oropharynx, do not insert the catheter too deeply. Extend the catheter to the maximum safe depth and suction as you withdraw.
  • When suctioning an ET tube, remember the tube is within the trachea and you may be suctioning near the bronchi/lung. Therefore, sterile technique should be used.
  • Each suction attempt should be for no longer than 10 seconds. Remember the person will not get oxygen during suctioning.
  • Monitor vital signs during suctioning and stop suctioning immediately if the person experiences hypoxemia (oxygen sats less than 94%), has a new arrhythmia, or becomes cyanotic.
Take Note
  • OPAs too large or too small may obstruct the airway.
  • NPAs sized incorrectly may enter the esophagus.
  • Always check for spontaneous respirations after insertion of either device.
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