Endotracheal Intubation

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What is endotracheal intubation?

Endotracheal intubation is a procedure by which a tube is inserted through the mouth down into the trachea (the large airway from the mouth to the lungs). Before surgery, this is often done under deep sedation. In emergency situations, the patient is often unconscious at the time of this procedure.

What kind of tube is used?

The tube that is used today is usually a flexible plastic tube. It is called an endotracheal tube because it is slipped within the trachea.

How do they put the tube down into the trachea?

The doctor often inserts the tube with the help of a laryngoscope, an instrument that permits the doctor to see the upper portion of the trachea, just below the vocal cords. During the procedure the laryngoscope is used to hold the tongue aside while inserting the tube into the trachea. It is important that the head be positioned in the appropriate manner to allow for proper visualization. Pressure is often applied to the thyroid cartilage (Adam's apple) to help with visualization and prevent possible aspiration of stomach contents.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/11/2014

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