CPAP Supplies and How They Help

CPAP Supplies and How They Help

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure / CPAP Supplies: How They Help Unconscious Patients

CPAP, or continuous positive airway pressure, is a treatment that uses mild air pressure to keep the airways open. CPAP typically is used by people who have breathing problems.

The importance of a patent airway cannot be overemphasized. It can mean poor blood oxygenation and hence tissue hypoxia and the risk of complications. This is especially important in a an unconscious patient under anesthesia or just coming out of anesthesia as well as those in coma due to various reasons. In these situations, the risk of the tongue falling back and obstructing the airway is very high. The use of an airway is a simple yet very efficient way of preventing this from happening.

Other benefits of using an airway in patients at risk of airway obstruction include:

  • Improves ease of secretion suctioning
  • Prevent the patient damaging other medical equipment used in the mouth such as bronchoscope, pharyngeal masks or even the ordinary oral endotracheal tube.

Types of oral airways

There are many types of airways. There are also different sizes for different ages as well as different mouth anatomies. Some of these airways are color coded for different sizes. All types of airways have a bite guard which is a hard part that makes it impossible for patients to clench their teeth against the airway or other medical equipment in the mouth.

Airways can either be:

  • Oropharyngeal - oral airway that has to be inserted through the mouth.
  • Nasopharyngeal - one inserted through the nose.
  • Tracheostomy tubes - these are inserted through the anterior part of the neck when the upper airway is not accessible or is obstructed.
Both types of airways are anatomically shape for ease of insertion and comfort. Both have a kind of guard, flange, which must be just outside the nose or lips. A flange prevents the airway piece getting lost into mouth or nose.

Common oropharyngeal airways

Guedel's airways

This is one of the commonest types. They come in different sizes starting from size 0 for an infant to size 5 for a big adult. These airways can also be described in terms of millimeters (mm).

The sizes in mm and their color code matches are shown below:
  • Size 0 infant size 50mm blue in color
  • Size 1 60mm for small child black in color
  • Size 2 70mm for a child color white
  • Size 3 80mm for small adults green color
  • Size 4 90mm for average adult yellow color
  • Size 5 100mm a big adult red

Berman's airways

These have slotted sides to enable easier suction catheter insertion. Depending on the manufacturer, they can be plain or colored. Many manufacturers of this type of airway start with a size 40 mm for neonates to a size 110mm for very big adults.

Nasopharyngeal airways

These serve the same purpose as the oropharyngeal airways. The only difference is that they are inserted through the nose.


Qualities of a good airway

  • One that fits well
  • One that is smooth to prevent mouth or nasal injuries
  • One that allows easy pharyngeal suction if need arises
  • One with a strong bite guard to prevent patient collapsing the airway by biting it.

Airways should only be used in unconscious patients with no gag reflex.

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