An airway, breathing, and circulation (ABC) assessment is the mainstay for evaluating and treating critically ill individuals. The airway assessment helps identify individuals with potential obstruction of the airway, which may benefit from airway management techniques to ensure adequate ventilation and oxygenation. Measures to relieve and prevent soft-tissue obstruction in an unconscious individual can include special positioning maneuvers and airway adjuncts (such as oropharyngeal or nasopharyngeal airways). By relieving obstruction, assisted breathing with a bag-mask is more effective. Endotracheal intubation provides a more definitive way to ensure airway patency and protection.
Last updated: Mar 21, 2023
Assessing airway Airway ABCDE Assessment, breathing, and circulation Circulation The movement of the blood as it is pumped through the cardiovascular system. ABCDE Assessment is essential in the approach to treating critically ill patients Patients Individuals participating in the health care system for the purpose of receiving therapeutic, diagnostic, or preventive procedures. Clinician–Patient Relationship.
Visualization of the airway Airway ABCDE Assessment and observation of the individual can help determine the following:
Patent airway Airway ABCDE Assessment:
Partially obstructed airway Airway ABCDE Assessment:
Determining whether an individual is breathing will also guide management options.
Note: During the ongoing COVID-19 COVID-19 Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) that mainly affects the respiratory system but can also cause damage to other body systems (cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, renal, and central nervous systems). pandemic, and especially in areas of high disease prevalence Prevalence The total number of cases of a given disease in a specified population at a designated time. It is differentiated from incidence, which refers to the number of new cases in the population at a given time. Measures of Disease Frequency, appropriate safety precautions are recommended to protect against inhalation of aerosolized viral particles which can be produced by airway Airway ABCDE Assessment manipulation; this is particularly true for endotracheal intubation Endotracheal Intubation Neonatal Respiratory Distress Syndrome.
Unconscious Unconscious Those forces and content of the mind which are not ordinarily available to conscious awareness or to immediate recall. Psychotherapy individuals with spontaneous breaths and a patent airway Airway ABCDE Assessment can be placed in a recovery position (also known as semi-prone or lateral recumbent). This is generally used in the prehospital setting.
These maneuvers are typically performed on unconscious Unconscious Those forces and content of the mind which are not ordinarily available to conscious awareness or to immediate recall. Psychotherapy individuals with evidence of an upper airway obstruction Airway obstruction Airway obstruction is a partial or complete blockage of the airways that impedes airflow. An airway obstruction can be classified as upper, central, or lower depending on location. Lower airway obstruction (LAO) is usually a manifestation of chronic disease, such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Airway Obstruction ( tongue Tongue The tongue, on the other hand, is a complex muscular structure that permits tasting and facilitates the process of mastication and communication. The blood supply of the tongue originates from the external carotid artery, and the innervation is through cranial nerves. Lips and Tongue: Anatomy occluding the glottis Glottis The vocal apparatus of the larynx, situated in the middle section of the larynx. Glottis consists of the vocal folds and an opening (rima glottidis) between the folds. Larynx: Anatomy).
Airway Airway ABCDE Assessment adjuncts are devices used to enhance and maintain an open airway Airway ABCDE Assessment, and can also aid in better bag-mask ventilation Ventilation The total volume of gas inspired or expired per unit of time, usually measured in liters per minute. Ventilation: Mechanics of Breathing (BMV). These devices are used in:
Technique to provide assisted breaths and deliver oxygen for:
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