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1. The act of breathing air in.
2. The inhalation of fluid or solid objects into the lower airways or lungs. This may occur in people with impaired gag reflexes or other swallowing disorders and also in neonates with meconium present in the amniotic fluid.
3. Withdrawal of fluid from a cavity by suctioning with an aspirator. The purpose of aspiration is to remove fluid or air from an affected area (as in pleural effusion, pneumothorax, ascites, or an abscess) or to obtain specimens (such as blood from a vein or serum from the spinal canal).
Aspiration equipment includes disinfecting solution for the skin; local anesthetic; two aspirating needles; a vacuum bottle or other closed system for receiving the fluid; a sterile receptacle for the specimen; sterile sponges, towels, and basins; sterile gloves, face masks, and gowns; and surgical dressings as the case may require.
The nurse assists with the aspiration procedures by assembling necessary equipment, by explaining the procedure and expected sensations to the patient, and by ascertaining that a consent form has been signed. The patient is draped to ensure privacy and warmth as well as emotional comfort. Emotional support is provided throughout the procedure. The operator is assisted in obtaining and processing specimens. The type and amount of any drainage or aspirated material is observed and documented. The operative site is dressed, and patient outcomes and any complications are monitored.
The respiratory therapist is primarily responsible for aspirating excessive airway secretions. This procedure may be done as a therapeutic maneuver to ease breathing or as a diagnostic procedure to collect a sputum sample for analysis of the microbes associated with the infection.