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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

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