Airway management involves ensuring that the patient has a patent airway through which effective ventilation can take place.
An obstructed airway means that the body is deprived of oxygen. If ventilation is not reestablished, brain death will occur within minutes. The primary purpose of airway management is to provide a continuously open airway along with a continuous source of oxygen. When a patient is critically ill and requires an artificial airway and mechanical ventilation, it is theresponsibility of the healthcare professionals caring for the patient to ensure that the airway is secure.
Another goal of airway management is to provide an artificial airway that is as close to the patient's natural airway as possible. This may mean mechanically performing physiological functions such as humidifying inspired air and removing secretions.
Airway management is a necessity for any patient who has an artificial airway. If the patient is restless or agitated, it is recommended that activities such as suctioning or endotracheal tube care be postponed until either the patient is calm or a sedative has been given. This is to avoid inadvertent removal of the airway. However, if the patient's respiratory status is unstable, suctioning or repositioning the endotracheal tube should be done if it will stabilize the patient.
Airway management consists of much more than just keeping the breathing tube in the correct position. The tube must be managed so that it allows optimal ventilation with the fewest complications.
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