Ambulance 2

Basic Airway Manoeuvres – OSCE Guide

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ThisΒ basic airway manoeuvres guide provides a step-by-step approach to performing a head-tilt & chin-lift or jaw thrust in an OSCE setting. Basic airway manoeuvres may be assessed in an OSCE as an individual skill, in combination with other airway management skills or as part of an ABCDE assessment.


Basic airway manoeuvres relieve upper airway obstruction in patients with a reduced level of consciousness. The tongue and soft palate can obstruct the upper airway in patients with a reduced level of consciousness.Β 

These basic airway manoeuvres do not require equipmentΒ and areΒ quick to perform.Β 

Indications of upper airway obstruction include:

  • Snoring
  • Gurgling noises
  • Hypoxia
  • No fogging of oxygen mask
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Head-tilt & chin-lift

The head-tilt & chin-lift manoeuvre anteriorly lifts the tongue and soft tissues of the pharynx to open the airway.Β This manoeuvre should not be performedΒ in a patient with aΒ suspected spinal injuryΒ as it causes extension of the cervical spine.

To perform a head-tilt & chin-lift:

1. Place one hand on the patient’s forehead and the other under the chin.

2. Tilt the forehead back whilst lifting the chin forward to extend the neck.

  • Head tilt chin lift
    Place one hand on the patient’s forehead and the other under the chin.

Jaw thrust

TheΒ jaw thrust involves lifting the mandible to move theΒ tongue and relieve upper airway obstruction. The jaw thrust can be used in patients with aΒ suspected spinal injury, as it does not extend the cervical spine.Β 

To perform aΒ jaw thrust:

1. Identify the angle of the mandible

2. Place two fingers under the angle of the mandible (on both sides) and anchor your thumbs on the patient’s cheeks

3. Lift the mandible forwards

  • Jaw thrust
    Identify the angle of the mandible.

To complete the procedure…

Continue toΒ monitor the airwayΒ and deliverΒ interventionsΒ as required (e.g.Β basic life support,Β ABCDE assessment).

Consider inserting an oropharyngeal or nasopharyngeal airway.Β 


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