Does this ever happen (for any age) in emergency (CPR) situations?

If so, how can one determine that the obstruction is esophageal and not tracheal and how does one apply CPR in this case?

Thank you.

  • 3
    I think you need to do a little more research, which this site requires questions to demonstrate. I suspect this is an anatomical misunderstanding. If the blockage doesn't involve the trachea, then there is no emergent situation that would require CPR.
    – Carey Gregory
    Commented Apr 20, 2022 at 1:02
  • @CareyGregory - as MonsieurWave explained - Compression of the trachea is possible by severe esophageal obstruction. There is no anatomical misunderstanding in that regard - I did indeed mean what I asked.
    – SAL
    Commented Apr 26, 2022 at 0:11
  • Yes, but that is the tracheal involvement I mentioned. The only criteria for CPR is lack of pulse and respirations. You don't base that decision on whether or not there's an obstruction in the esophagus. If there's an obstruction in the trachea, you follow CPR guidelines for clearing the airway and then if there's no pulse and respirations you follow the same guidelines for performing CPR. You don't concern yourself with whether or not there's something in the esophagus causing it unless you're a medical professional treating the patient.
    – Carey Gregory
    Commented Apr 26, 2022 at 4:02
  • @CareyGregory If the esophageal obstruction can be severe enough that it applies enough pressure on the trachea to completely stop breathing, you have an emergency situation, where the general CPR guidelines you mention are no longer applicable - you cannot clear the airway when there isn't anything in it. I'm just asking if this ever happens (in adults or babies), how to determine that that is indeed what's happening, and how to proceed in an emergency (when you don't have time to drive to the hospital).
    – SAL
    Commented Apr 26, 2022 at 18:01

1 Answer 1


Severe esophageal obstruction could cause choking via:

  • Regurgitation leading to bronchoaspiration
  • Compression of the adjacent trachea

Resuscitation in such a scenario would warrant emergent protection of the airway.

If there is external compression of the trachea, depending on the cause, a foreign object might have to be removed endoscopically, or if the compressions originates from a mass, the trachea could be stented.

  • 4
    While I don't disagree with your answer, answers on Medical Sciences are expected to include references to back up claims and information in them. Please edit your answer to include your sources. Here is a list of reliable sources to get you started in case you need them.
    – Ian Campbell
    Commented Apr 23, 2022 at 13:24
  • Thank you, @MonsieurWave - I was indeed wondering about compression of the adjacent trachea. █ When it's severe enough that there's no time to go to hospital for endoscopy, and stenting the trachea isn't an option (for the average person applying CPR) - are there other options of first trying to remove the object? █ And how does one even diagnose that this is the issue in the first place?
    – SAL
    Commented Apr 26, 2022 at 0:06
  • @SAL Have you had a CPR course? How to clear the airway is covered in those courses.
    – Carey Gregory
    Commented Apr 26, 2022 at 4:07
  • @CareyGregory Yes, I have, but per my question, there is nothing in the airway to clear. The airway is being pushed on from the obstruction in the esophagus. Hence my question...
    – SAL
    Commented Apr 26, 2022 at 17:50
  • @SAL As this answer says, emergent airway protection would be needed in that scenario. That means either intubation or a cricothyrotomy, both of which require training and equipment. A layperson's only option is to open the airway as best they can using standard techniques and continue CPR.
    – Carey Gregory
    Commented Apr 26, 2022 at 20:00

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