Intubation and Mechanical Ventilation
Intubation and mechanical ventilation is the use of a tube and a machine to help get air into and out of your lungs. This is often done in emergencies, but it can also be done when you are having surgery.
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Reasons for Procedure
Your lungs help exchange gases in your body. Oxygen gets moved from the air in your lungs into your blood, and carbon dioxide in your blood moves into the air in your lungs. This movement of gases is needed to live. If you cannot move air into and out of your lungs, then this gas exchange cannot happen. Intubation and mechanical ventilation is done to help you breathe when you cannot move enough air in and out on your own.
Complications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. If you are planning to have intubation and mechanical ventilation, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
If your intubation and mechanical ventilation is being performed along with surgery and is planned:
In most cases, you will either be heavily sedated or under and asleep. Local anesthesia may be used to numb your throat. You may also receive a muscle relaxant. This is to prevent gagging when the tube is inserted.
Description of the Procedure
First, you will wear an oxygen mask for 2-3 minutes. This will ensure that you have enough oxygen in your system during the procedure.
The doctor will tilt your head back slightly. Then, the doctor will use a tool called a laryngoscope. The scope has a handle, a light, and a smooth dull blade. This tool is used to lift the tongue off the back of the throat so the doctor can see your vocal cords. When the doctor sees your vocal cords, he will stick one end of the breathing tube through them, down into your lower windpipe.
Once the tube is in position, the doctor will remove the scope and leave the tube in place. The tube will then be taped to the corner of your mouth. Next, the doctor will attach the tube to a ventilator machine. This machine will move air in and out of your lungs. It can adjust how quickly and how deeply you breathe. In some cases, the tube will be inserted through the nose instead of the mouth.
Immediately After Procedure
Right after the procedure, your doctor will:
How Long Will It Take?
Less than five minutes
How Much Will It Hurt?
The anesthesia will prevent pain during the procedure. The tube will cause discomfort and make you cough. It may also irritate your voice box and trachea.
Average Hospital Stay
This procedure is done in a hospital setting. The usual length of stay depends on why you are having the procedure.
While you are intubated, you will receive extra help from nurses and other hospital staff.
You will not be able to eat, drink, or talk until the endotracheal tube is removed. Before the doctor can remove the tube, you will need to:
Call Your Doctor
After you are no longer intubated and have left the hospital, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs: