Nasopharyngeal airways (NP Airways)

Video 5 of 14
1 min 57 sec
Want to watch this video? Sign up for the course or enter your email below to watch one free video.

Unlock This Video Now for FREE

This video is normally available to paying customers.
You may unlock this video for FREE. Enter your email address for instant access AND to receive ongoing updates and special discounts related to this topic.

Introduction to Nasopharyngeal Airways

Nasopharyngeal airways, commonly referred to as NP airways, play a vital role in ensuring adequate breathing, especially when conventional methods aren't viable.

When to Use an NP Airway

  • Manual Limitations: If manual techniques to open a patient's airway prove insufficient.
  • Multitasking: When there's a need to free one's hands to perform other tasks.
  • Specific Cases: Particularly beneficial for patients experiencing fits or those with head injuries resulting in trismus, where teeth clenching prevents the use of an oropharyngeal airway.

Selecting the Right Size

The size of the NP airway is determined based on the nostril's size and, as a general rule, the diameter of the patient's little finger. Sizes vary, typically ranging from six to nine millimetres. For our subject here, we've chosen a number eight millimetre NP airway.

Features and Insertion

These airways possess a slight curve and a flange at the end, ensuring they remain securely outside the patient's nostril. Here's a step-by-step guide for insertion:

  1. Hold the NP airway in the right hand, aiming for the patient's right nostril.
  2. Exercise caution, especially if the patient has a head injury, due to potential fractures at the skull base.
  3. Begin by inserting it into the right nostril, moving upwards. Rotate and slide it downwards during insertion.
  4. Once correctly positioned in the oropharynx, a distinct airflow through the airway is noticeable. It's common to observe mucus or blood, so it's recommended to keep one's head tilted back during the process.


NP airways offer a reliable solution for ensuring patient breathing in challenging scenarios. Proper selection and careful insertion are key to their effectiveness.