Techniques Used to Promote Oxygenation

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Sarah Lawson

Sarah has taught nursing courses and has a master's degree in nursing education.

Oxygenation is not always sustained by a patient alone, but there are techniques employed to maintain oxygenation in patients. Learn this process through different sources of oxygenation, incentive spirometry, and chest physiotherapy. Updated: 11/15/2021


Everyone knows how vitally important oxygen is to our survival. Oxygen plays a role in every system of our bodies. Without an adequate amount of oxygen, normal body function would not be possible. This is because cells in our bodies are aerobic, this means they require oxygen to stay alive. This is true of many things in our environment, such as trees and animals. When cells are deprived of oxygen, they die or mutate. In this lesson, you'll learn about different techniques that are used in healthcare to promote proper oxygenation levels in patients.

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  • 0:01 Overview of Oxygenation
  • 0:39 Sources of Oxygenation
  • 2:48 Incentive Spirometry
  • 3:46 Chest Physiotherapy
  • 4:31 Lesson Summary
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Sources of Oxygenation

There are several ways to deliver oxygen to conscious patients. There are nasal cannulas, simple masks, oxygen mask with reservoir bag (non-rebreather), venturi mask, and a face tent. The source of oxygenation is chosen based on the level of hypoxia a patient is in.

A nasal cannula is tubing with two prongs attached, which are inserted into the nose. This is the most common way oxygen is delivered because it is better tolerated by patients than facemasks. It can deliver oxygen at a lower flow with concentrations of 22% to 50%. It is generally used on patients with minor breathing problems. It is available in several sizes and used in various age groups.

A simple mask is an oxygen device that consists of a mask that is placed over the nose and mouth with tubing to the oxygen source. It provides a moderate flow of oxygen with concentrations of 40% to 60% oxygen.

A non-rebreather mask is similar to a simple mask with an oxygen reservoir attached. The mask is able to deliver a high flow of oxygen with concentrations of 60% to 95% oxygen. The simple mask and the non-rebreather mask are for patients who need a higher flow and concentration of oxygen than the nasal cannula can provide.

A venturi mask is a mask that fits over the nose and mouth, and it also has a venturi barrel. This oxygen delivery source is typically used on critically ill patients and usually ones with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD. It can deliver oxygen at 24% to 60% and has a low build-up of carbon dioxide.

A face tent is a soft mask that fits loosely around the face and neck. This mask is an alternative for patients who feel claustrophobic with the tighter fitting masks. This device delivers oxygen at 28% to 100% but since the mask fits loosely, the actual concentration of oxygen depends on the patient's respiratory rate and depth of respiration.

Incentive Spirometry

An incentive spirometer is a medical device that assists in improving the function of the lungs. When used regularly, as many asthmatic patients do, it can also help a patient to see if lung function is less than normal, which can be a warning sign of a possible asthma attack coming. Many patients use incentive spirometers after surgery to help improve airflow and minimize fluid build-up in the lungs, which could lead to pneumonia.

The device is used by having the patient breathe in from the spirometer as deeply and slowly as they can and then holding their breath for several seconds. This action helps the patient to deep breathe and ensure opening of the alveoli. An indicator on the device provides a measurement that reveals how well the patient's lungs are functioning. A patient that is recovering from surgery is generally asked to use their incentive spirometer every two hours while awake and to record their measurements for their nurse or doctor to review.

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