The Gwathmey Expanding Airway, patented in 1938, is an oropharyngeal (oral) airway. Oral airways are placed over the tongue to create an air passage from the mouth to the far back of the throat. Sometimes oral airways can be difficult to insert. Dr. James T. Gwathmey (1862-1944) offered a creative solution by designing this airway to expand after being inserted. Oral airways are just one device used by anesthesiologists to maintain an unobstructed passage through which patients breathe during surgery.
Gwathmey modified and developed a number of devices, including the Gwathmey Folding Vapor Mask
, and an anesthesia machine which inspired Boyle's apparatus. Gwathmey wrote the first comprehensive American textbook of anesthesiology, Anesthesia
, published in 1914. He also significantly influenced the development of anesthesiology as a profession.