• To rapidly assist in maintaining the airway patency of an unconscious patient with at risk airway.
 Patient Factors & Considerations

The placement of an OPA MUST NOT interrupt effective compressions in Cardiac Arrest.

  • If the patient gags during the insertion of the oropharyngeal airway, remove immediately and be prepared to suction.
  • Paediatrics <6 years: insertion should be performed without twisting and should follow the natural curvature of the airway to prevent damage to the oropharynx.
  • Suspicion of traumatic injury: ensure spinal alignment and immobilisation of head and neck (jaw thrust method).
  • Jaw thrust, double or triple airway manoeuvre is still required for effective spontaneous or positive pressure ventilation.
  • Incorrect use of OPA may cause further airway obstruction.
  • Incorrect use in patients suffering from a traumatic brain injury may have increased intracranial pressure and secondary brain injury.
  • All relevant infection control methods to be utilised.
  • Select the most appropriate OPA size by measuring from the centre of the lips to the angle of the mandible [1].

  • Place patient’s head in a neutral position.
  • Ensure airway is clear; suction if necessary.
  • Open the patient’s mouth using the cross finger method.
  • Orientate the OPA tip to the roof of the mouth, insert it approx. 1/3 of its length,  then rotate it slowly to allow the tip to point downwards while gently pushing it into the airway[2][3].
  • Progress the OPA gently into the mouth until the flange is resting on the lips[4].
  • Ensure the tongue has not been inadvertently displaced into the back of the throat.

  • Assess efficacy of inserted OPA by observing chest rise and fall.
Additional Information
Additional information

Extended Care:
Colour assist:

Oropharyngeal Airway. (2014). Expert in My Pocket. http://expertinmypocket.com.au/oropharyngeal-airway/

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Clinical Services

Responsible Manager
Head of Clinical Services


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