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What is Cricoid Pressure

Cricoid Pressure Pronunciation: ˈkrī-ˌkȯid ˈpre-shər

Definition: Cricoid pressure, also known as the Sellick maneuver, is a technique used by healthcare professionals to prevent passive regurgitation of stomach contents into the upper airway during emergency airway management, such as intubation or bag-mask ventilation. The maneuver involves applying firm, backward pressure on the cricoid cartilage, which is located in the front of the neck just below the Adam’s apple.

Frequently Asked Questions About Cricoid Pressure

When is cricoid pressure used?

Cricoid pressure is used during emergency airway management, such as endotracheal intubation or bag-mask ventilation, to reduce the risk of aspiration (inhaling stomach contents into the lungs). This is particularly important for patients at an increased risk of regurgitation, such as those with a full stomach, pregnant patients, or trauma patients.

How is cricoid pressure applied?

To apply cricoid pressure:

  1. Identify the cricoid cartilage by locating the Adam’s apple (thyroid cartilage) and moving your fingers downward until you feel a smaller, ring-shaped cartilage.
  2. Place your thumb and index finger on either side of the cricoid cartilage.
  3. Apply firm, backward pressure in a slightly upward direction, compressing the esophagus against the cervical vertebrae.
  4. Maintain the pressure until the airway is secured, and then release the pressure carefully.

Note: Cricoid pressure should only be performed by trained healthcare professionals.

What are the potential risks of cricoid pressure?

If performed incorrectly or with excessive force, cricoid pressure may:

  1. Cause discomfort or pain to the patient.
  2. Impair visualization of the vocal cords during intubation, making the procedure more difficult.
  3. Potentially damage the cricoid cartilage or other structures in the neck.

Recent guidelines and research have led to a debate regarding the effectiveness and safety of cricoid pressure. Some organizations now recommend alternative techniques or a more cautious approach to its use. It is crucial for healthcare professionals to receive proper training and stay updated on the latest guidelines and recommendations for airway management.