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February 12, 1982

The Esophageal Obturator Airway

Author Affiliations

University of Oklahoma College of Medicine Oklahoma City

JAMA. 1982;247(6):754. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03320310018012

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To the Editor.—  The critique by T. A. Don Michael, MD, "The Esophageal Obturator Airway" (1981;246:1098), affirms the usefulness of this device in certain circumstances. Terminology, however, is misleading. Specifically, the esophageal obturator airway (EOA) is an airway in exactly the same manner that a nasopharyngeal airway is; it puts gases into the hypopharynx through 16 small holes as a nasopharyngeal airway does through a single opening. When the EOA is modified to receive a nasogastric tube, it ceases to be even this much of an "airway." It then becomes only an esophageal occluder containing a nasogastric tube. Ventilation is done with bag and mask, with possible upper airway obstruction. It is important to know that although the EOA is useful to help prevent aspiration of gastric contents, it does nothing to protect the airway from aspiration of other foreign materials such as blood in the hypopharynx as a result