Airway management includes a set of maneuvers and medical procedures performed to prevent and relieve airway obstruction. This ensures an open pathway for gas exchange between a patient's lungs and the atmosphere. This is accomplished by either clearing a previously obstructed airway; or by preventing airway obstruction in cases such as anaphylaxis, the obtunded patient, or medical sedation. Airway obstruction can be caused by the tongue, foreign objects, the tissues of the airway itself, and bodily fluids such as blood and gastric contents (aspiration).
Advanced techniques require specialized medical training and equipment, and are further categorized anatomically into supraglottic devices (such as oropharyngeal and nasopharyngeal airways), infraglottic techniques (such as tracheal intubation), and surgical methods (such as cricothyrotomy and tracheotomy).