Oropharyngeal airways (OP Airways)

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1 min 58 sec
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Introduction to Oropharyngeal Airways

Understanding the correct use of an oropharyngeal (OP) airway can be pivotal when dealing with unconscious patients whose airways cannot be manually maintained.

When to Use an OP Airway

The OP airway becomes essential when manual methods to maintain a patient's airway prove to be ineffective or not feasible.

Choosing the Correct Size

The available sizes span from double zero to five. The correct size is determined by positioning the airway's end against the angle of the patient's jaw. Ideally, its flange should align with the incisors horizontally, indicating the appropriate size for the patient.

Insertion Procedure

  1. Tilt the patient's head back to prepare for insertion.
  2. Invert the airway, ensuring it points towards the patient's hard palate.
  3. While inserting, once resistance is felt, revert and lodge the airway so that it aligns against the oropharynx and positions in the vallecula. This ensures the tongue doesn't obstruct the oropharynx, establishing a clear airway.

Confirming Proper Function

Post insertion, it's imperative to verify the airway's functionality. If the patient breathes, observe the chest's movement and listen for the sound of air passage to ensure its efficacy.


The oropharyngeal airway offers a crucial solution for unconscious patients. Correct size selection, proper insertion, and functional checks are vital to its effective application.

Learning Outcomes:
  • IPOSi Unit two LO2.1 & 2.2