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Laryngeal mask airway

Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

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The laryngeal mask airway is a device that sits tightly over the top of the larynx. It avoids tracheal intubation and can be used with spontaneous respiration or artificial ventilation. However, it may not protect the airway from the aspiration of regurgitated material. It has found favour in day case surgery.

The cuff of the mask is emptied before insertion and lubricated. The patient is now anaesthetised; alternatively, they may present unconscious. The neck is extended and the mouth opened widely. The apex of the mask, with its open end pointing downwards to the tongue, is pushed backwards towards the uvula. It follows the natural bend of the oropharynx and comes to rest over the pyriform fossa. At this point - gauged by experience - the cuff around the mask is inflated with air to create the seal. Air entry is confirmed by auscultating in the axillae.

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