Heimlich, Henry Jay

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Heimlich, Henry Jay

U.S. surgeon, b. 1920

Heimlich flutter valve

Flutter valve.

Heimlich valve

Flutter valve.
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HEIMLICH MANEUVER: (for removal of a foreign body blocking the airway)

Heimlich maneuver

A technique for removing a foreign body, such as a food bolus, from the throat, trachea, or pharynx of a choking victim, where it is preventing air flow to and from the lungs. Synonym: abdominal thrust maneuver.

For a conscious victim, the maneuver consists of the rescuer applying subdiaphragmatic pressure by wrapping his or her arms around the victim's waist from behind, making a fist with one hand, placing it against the patient's abdomen between the navel and the rib cage, and then clasping the fist with the free hand and pressing in with a quick, forceful upward thrust. This procedure should be repeated several times if necessary. If one is alone and experiences airway obstruction caused by a foreign body, this technique may be self-applied.

For the unconscious victim, starting CPR is now the recommended procedure because chest compressions are often effective for removing a foreign body. It is a simple method that can be taught to the general public.

When the patient is a child and can speak, breathe, or cough, the maneuver is unnecessary. If the maneuver is done, it should be applied as gently as possible but still forcibly enough to dislodge the obstruction (the abdominal viscera of children are more easily damaged than those of adults).

This treatment is quite effective in dislodging the obstruction by forcing air against the mass, much as pressure from a carbonated beverage forcibly removes a cork or cap from a bottle. The average air flow produced is 225 L/min.


The Heimlich maneuver should not be performed unless complete airway obstruction is present. If the patient can cough, this maneuver should not be performed. In infants, extremely obese patients, and obviously pregnant patients, chest thrusts are used instead of abdominal thrusts to facilitate removal of the obstruction. See: illustration; choking
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