Heimlich manoeuvre: adjunctive emergency procedure to relieve choking and asphyxia.

du Toit D.F. (2004)


Choking on aspirated food or a foreign body (i.e. meat, mushroom, coin, chewing gum and a balloon) is a common cause of laryngeal obstruction, particularly in those persons who are intoxicated by alcohol or who have bulbar palsy (degeneration of motor neurons in the brain stem nuclei of the glossopharyngeal and vagal nerve). The rima glottis in the larynx is an important site where aspirated food or material becomes lodged, thereby causing laryngeal obstruction (choking). Because the lungs still contain air, intentional compression thrusts to the abdomen (Heimlich manoeuvre) will theoretically expel air from the lungs and dislodge the entrapped food or other material. The manoeuvre can also be used to expel aspirated water from the airways in cases of near drowning. The manoeuvre has been found to be successful as an emergency adjunct measure in removing food blocking the airway.

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