What is the endotracheal intubation?
Endotracheal intubation (EI) is often an emergency procedure that’s performed on people who are unconscious or who can’t breathe on their own. EI maintains an open airway and helps prevent suffocation.
In a typical EI, you’re given anesthesia. Then, a flexible plastic tube is placed into your trachea through your mouth to help you breathe.
The trachea, also known as the windpipe, is a tube that carries oxygen to your lungs. The size of the breathing tube is matched to your age and throat size. The tube is kept in place by a small cuff of air that inflates around the tube after it is inserted.
Your trachea begins just below your larynx, or voice box, and extends down behind the breastbone, or sternum. Your trachea then divides and becomes two smaller tubes: the right and left main bronchi. Each tube connects to one of your lungs. The bronchi then continue to divide into smaller and smaller air passages within the lung.
Your trachea is made up of tough cartilage, muscle, and connective tissue. Its lining is composed of smooth tissue. Each time you breathe in, your windpipe gets slightly longer and wider. It returns to its relaxed size as you breathe out.
You can have difficulty breathing or may not be able to breathe at all if any path along the airway is blocked or damaged. This is when EI can be necessary.
Why is endotracheal intubation done?
You may need this procedure for any of the following reasons:
To open your airways so that you can receive anesthesia, medication, or oxygen
To protect your lungs
You’ve stopped breathing or you’re having difficulty breathing
You need a machine to help you breathe
You have a head injury and cannot breathe on your own
You need to be sedated for a period of time in order to recover from a serious injury or illness
EI keeps your airway open. This allows oxygen to pass freely to and from your lungs as you breathe.