Endotracheal Intubation – Indication and Procedure

Abhishek Kapila
Doctor Abhishek Kapila

As a hospitalist with EmCare in Frankfort, Kentucky, Dr. Abhishek Kapila draws on a strong working knowledge of care coordination and clinical procedures. Dr. Abhishek Kapila has performed a number of intubations since beginning his medical career.

Responsible for transporting air into the lungs, the trachea runs from the larynx to the bronchi. It is approximately 1 inch wide and 4 inches long and consists of muscle, connective tissue, and cartilage. A healthy trachea is able to expand to let air in and collapse as the breath exits the body, but it can become blocked or otherwise incapacitated, due to injury or disease.

If the trachea is not working properly and a medical team needs to artificially promote breathing, a physician may perform an endotracheal intubation. This most often takes place when the patient is under anesthesia, though in emergency situations the patient may be unconscious as a result of his or her injuries.

The procedure begins with the physician inserting a laryngoscope into the patient’s mouth. This instrument helps the doctor to visualize the upper trachea, while also holding the tongue out of the way. The physician may also apply pressure to the thyroid, so that the path for the tracheal tube becomes easier to view.

The doctor then inserts a flexible plastic tube and passes it through the vocal cords of the larynx. This tube can connect to either a breathing machine or to a bag, which can help doctors to determine the correct placement of the tube. Intubation remains in place only until the patient can breathe for him- or herself, at which point a member of the care team will remove the tube.