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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.
Your lungs help exchange gases in your body. Oxygen is 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:
Damage to teeth, lips, or tongue
Damage to the trachea or larynx resulting in pain, hoarseness, or difficulty breathing after the tube is removed
Esophageal intubation—when the tube is accidentally inserted into the esophagus and stomach rather than the trachea
If your intubation and mechanical ventilation is being performed along with surgery and is planned:
The night before, eat a light meal. Do not eat or drink anything after midnight.
Ask your doctor about any other special directions.
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.
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.
Your head will be tilted back slightly. A tool called a laryngoscope will be used. The scope has a handle, a light, and a smooth dull blade. This tool lifts the tongue off the back of the throat so your vocal cords can be seen. One end of the breathing tube will be inserted through the vocal cords and into your lower windpipe.
When the tube is in position, the scope will be removed and the tube will be left in place. Next, the tube will be attached to a ventilator machine. The tube will then be taped to the corner of your mouth. 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.
Mechanical ventilation. Anaesthesia & Intensive Care website. Available at: ...(Click grey area to select URL) Accessed May 29, 2013.
Mechanical ventilator. American Thoracic Society website. Available at: ...(Click grey area to select URL) Accessed May 29, 2013.
What is a ventilator? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: ...(Click grey area to select URL) Updated February 1, 2011. Accessed May 29, 2013.
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