In an unconscious patient the tongue may fall against oropharynx and block the airway, and this will impair ventilation. Airway adjuncts such as the OPA are used to maintain an open airway and to facilitate ventilation.
Bag-mask ventilation (BMV) is a vital skill for all health practitioners with responsibility for resuscitation. BMV refers to the use of a self-inflating bag and resuscitation mask to deliver positive pressure ventilation to an apnoeic or hypoventilating patient.
Insertion of an LMA is reserved for the airway management of the unconscious patient without a gag reflex and who requires assisted ventilation.
A nasopharyngeal airway (NPA) is used to assist ventilation in an unresponsive patient or to augment airway maintenance with an OPA.
The unconscious victim or the patient with impaired muscle tone is unable to swallow or clear foreign matter from their airway. In this situation the upper airway may become obstructed by foreign materials, regurgitated material, blood or saliva, and suctioning the airway will be required to prevent aspiration and associated risk of aspiration pneumonia.
All health professionals must be able to perform effective cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Evidence has shown that the interventions that have the greatest success in restoring cardiac output in cardiac arrest are good quality CPR and early defibrillation.
The triple airway manoeuvre is the combination of head extension, mouth opening and jaw thrust, and is considered to be the most effective method for opening the airway. This method provides a more patent airway than extension of the head without jaw thrust,and is the recommended position for insertion of the LMA.