Aspiration Risk Factors


Aspiration Risk


  1. When the patient cannot adequately coordinate protective
  • glottic
  • laryngeal
  • cough reflexes


2. Hazard Increases if the patient

  • has a distended abdomen
  • is in a supine position
  • has upper extremities immobilized by intravenous infusions
  • hand restraints
  • receives local anesthetic to oropharyngeal or laryngeal area for dx procedure
  • has been sedated
  • has had long-term intubation


3. When vomiting a pt can normally protect the airway

  • by sitting up
  • turning on their side \
  • coordinating breathing, coughing and gag and glottic reflexes
  • If these reflexes are active, an oral airway should not be inserted
  • If an oral airway is in place it should be pulled out the moment the patient gags so as not to stimulate the pharyngeal gag reflex and promote vomiting and aspiration.
  • Suctioning of oral secretions with a catheter should be performed with minimal pharyngeal stimulation.


  1. When intubated, the pt may aspirate even with nasogastric tube in situ
  2. aspiration may result in noocomial pneumonia
  3. tube placement is key to aspiration prevention
  4. X-ray is the best way to determine tube placement

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