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Oropharyngeal airways come in a variety of sizes, from infant to adult, and are used commonly in pre-hospital emergency care and for short term airway management post anaesthetic or when manual methods are inadequate to maintain an open airway. This piece of equipment is utilized by certified first responders, emergency medical technicians, and paramedics - plus other health professionals when tracheal intubation is either not available, not advisable or the problem is of short term duration.
Oropharyngeal airways are indicated only in unconscious people, because of the likelihood that the device would stimulate a gag reflex in conscious or semi-conscious persons. This could result in vomit and potentially lead to an obstructed airway. Nasopharyngeal airways are mostly used instead as they do not stimulate a gag reflex. In general oropharyngeal airways need to be sized and inserted correctly to maximise effectiveness and minimise possible complications - such as oral trauma.