Exhaling During Manual Ventilation Is As Important As Inhaling


One of my readers recently asked a very important question about ventilating a patient with a bag-valve-mask device: “Is there an outlet for the expired air of the patient?” The answer is yes. When ventilating a patient we are concentrating, and rightfully so, on watching the lungs expand and verifying that we hear breath sounds. It is just as important to verify that your patient can exhale. All ventilation devices have a built in pressure relief valve, also called a pop-off valve, which allows you to balance the force needed to expand the lungs with the ability to the patient to passively exhale. Failure to allow exhalation can lead to patient injury from barotrauma.

Self Inflating Bag

Common parts for bag-valve-mask devices, In this case a self-inflating style bag. Note the pressure relief valve near the mask elbow. This valve regulates inspiratory pressure as well as effects ease of exhalation.

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Respiratory Depression In A Child: A Case Demonstrating Excellent Communication Skills

When I’m teaching airway management to my Perioperative/OR nurses, I often recount the story of what happened during one particular child’s recovery years ago. This case, involving a 2 year old child who developed respiratory depression in the recovery room, demonstrates how good communication, including the ability to challenge an authority figure, can improve patient safety and allow collaborative teamwork in a crisis management situation. Continue reading

In Airway Emergencies Always Start With The Basics of Airway Management

We have just finished another round of Critical Event Training for my hospital’s Anesthesia and OR staff. One of the scenarios we ran was how to manage a failed airway: the dreaded “can’t intubate-can’t ventilate” scenario.

As an instructor, it’s important for me to set the stage realistically. The more real the scenario, the more the providers will learn and be able to apply the information should they ever find themselves in a comparable situation. I must observe as the trainees respond to the emergency, and then help the trainees self-analyze what went well — or not so well — during the scenario. Of course, discussion of how things went during a training scenario always leads to sharing of examples from past real life scenarios. And after 37 years of practice I’ve had a lot of sharable experiences.

One past case we discussed is particularly appropriate for those students around the country who are just beginning to learn airway management because the solution rested in basic airway management techniques. This case, involving an intubation in an ICU patient that turned into a “can’t intubate/can’t ventilate” emergency demonstrates how returning to the basics of airway management can sometimes be the way to save your patient from harm. All illustrations from Anyone Can Intubate 5th Edition. Continue reading

Difference in Ventilating With a Self-Inflating Ventilation Bag vs. a Free Flow Inflating Bag

Ventilating with a bag-valve-mask device requires a good mask seal against the face in order to generate the pressure to inflate the lungs. But it also requires knowledge of how to effectively use the ventilation device to deliver a breath. This article will discuss the differences in ventilation technique for self-inflating vs free-flow ventilation bags. Understanding those differences is important for you to successfully ventilate your patient. Continue reading

Airway Obstruction Can Occur After Thyroglossal Duct Excision

The longer I do anesthesia, the more I realize that not knowing the details about the surgeries that I see every day can cause unexpected problems with the anesthesia. Airway obstruction can occur following uneventful thyroglossal duct excision because of removal of the hyoid bone. This article describes reasons why the anatomical change can cause obstruction and discusses a case where such airway obstruction needed treatment in the immediate postoperative period. Continue reading

Getting A Good Mask Seal When Ventilating a Patient

Use of a bag-valve-mask device is one of the most important skills you can master in patient care. Many of my students have a hard time ventilating with a bag-valve-mask device because they fail to get a good seal with the mask. So let’s discuss how to place the mask step-by-step. Continue reading