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Ask the Doctor: Partial Airway Obstruction and Unconscious Patients

November 03, 2019

Ask the Doctor: Partial Airway Obstruction and Unconscious Patients

Questions: 

  1. Is the Dechoker choking first aid device intended to work on a complete obstruction only, or could it also work on an incomplete obstruction?
  1. In which moment should Dechoker be used on an unconscious patient: previous to CPR or during?  When should we stop trying to dislodge the obstruction and start standard CPR?

 Answers:

The following answers were provided Dr. Randall L. Snook, M.D. (Internal Medicine/Gerontology), a member of Dechoker’s medical advisory team.

Thank you for the questions regarding the use of Dechoker in these specific situations.

  1. As for partial obstruction, certainly attempting to relieve the obstruction with the Dechoker is reasonable but it would be difficult to predict if the negative pressure generated by the Dechoker would be enough to remove the object as there is the possibility of air movement around the partial obstruction reducing the overall suction pressure.
  1. For the unconscious victim of a foreign-body airway obstruction (FBAO) the Dechoker is considered a great choice to relieve the obstruction. Following the current protocol for the unconscious victim and when to initiate CPR remains for us following the standard of care: if the victim is unconscious, unresponsive, and not breathing or not breathing normally. If an FBAO exists using the Dechoker or abdominal thrust or both is imperative as the FBAO will prevent effective CPR from being delivered to begin with. 

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