Emergency Management of Foreign Body Airway Obstruction

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Abstract

The recent studies of Heimlich (1,2) have re-focused attention on manual and mechanical techniques for the management of foreign body obstruction of the airway. The 1974 Standards for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and Emergency Cardiac Care (ECC) (3) recommend:

  1. tilting an unconscious victim’s head backward into maximum extension to relieve obstruction of the throat by the tongue; and

  2. delivering firm blows on the victim’s back and sweeping your fingers deeply into his throat to remove foreign bodies. These recommendations for head tilt are well documented (4,5), but there are no controlled, comparative studies on manual maneuvers or mechanical devices for treating obstruction of the airway by food or other foreign bodies.