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Endotracheal intubation

Definition

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

Why the test is performed

Endotracheal intubation is done to open the airway to give oxygen, medication, or anesthesia, and to help with breathing. It may also be done to remove blockages (foreign bodies) from the airway or to allow the doctor to get a better view of the upper airway.

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.

Special considerations

After endotracheal intubation, you will likely be placed on a respirator, which is a machine that breathes for you while the tube is in place.

References

Danzl DF, Vissers RJ. Tracheal intubation and mechanical ventilation. In: Tintinalli JE, Kelen GD, Stapczynski JS, Ma OJ, Cline DM, eds. Emergency Medicine: A Comprehensive Study Guide. 6th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2004: chap 19.

Review Date: 7/19/2009
Reviewed By: 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..
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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