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Endotracheal intubation

Endotracheal intubation is a medical procedure in which a tube is placed into the windpipe (trachea), through the mouth or the nose. In most emergency situations it is placed through the mouth.

See also: Bronchoscopy , Tracheostomy

Alternative Names

Intubation - endotracheal

How the test is performed

After endotracheal intubation, you will likely be placed on a breathing machine.

If you are awake after the procedure, your health care provider may give you medicine to reduce your anxiety or discomfort.

Why the test is performed

Endotracheal intubation is done to:

  • Open the airway to give oxygen, medication, or anesthesia
  • Remove blockages from the airway
  • Allow the doctor to get a better view of the upper airway
  • Protect the lungs in certain patients

What the risks are

Risks for any surgery are:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection

Additional risks for this procedure include trauma to the voice box (larynx), thyroid gland, vocal cords and trachea (windpipe), or esophagus. Puncture or perforation (tearing) of body parts in the chest cavity, leading to lung collapse, may also occur.

References

McGill JW, Reardon RF. Tracheal intubation. In: Roberts JR, Hedges JR, eds. Clinical Procedures in Emergency Medicine. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2009:chap 4.

Updated: 8/16/2011

Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc..


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