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Oropharyngeal versus Nasopharyngeal for inital airway protection

Three Part Question

In [an unconscious patient maintaining their own airway] is [an oropharngeal better than a nasopharngeal airway] for [protecting the airway]?

Clinical Scenario

A 56 year old lady has a convulsion whilst waiting in her cubicle in the emergency department. She collapses to the floor and maintains her own airway. You wonder whether an oropharyngeal is better than a nasopharyngeal airway in providing initial airway protection.

Search Strategy

Medline 1966-02/2007 using the OVID interface.
([exp gudel OR OR exp oropharyngeal OR] AND [exp nasopharyngeal OR] AND [exp airway OR]) LIMIT to human AND english language.

Search Outcome

51 papers found all of which were irrelevant.


There is no literature comparing the efficacy of oropharyngeal airways to nasopharyngeal airways.

Clinical Bottom Line

There is no evidence to determine whether oropharyngeal airways are better than nasopharyngeal airways at providing initial airway protection. Follow local protocol.