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Tracheal Intubation

Tracheal Intubation Pronunciation: Tray-kee-al In-too-bay-shun (ˈtrā-kē-əl ˌin-(ˌ)tü-ˈbā-shən)

Definition: Tracheal intubation is a medical procedure in which a flexible plastic tube is inserted into the windpipe (trachea) to maintain an open airway or to deliver medication, anesthesia, or oxygen.

What is Tracheal Intubation?


Tracheal intubation is a critical procedure often performed in emergency, anesthesia, and critical care settings. It helps ensure that the airway remains clear and accessible, enabling oxygen to reach the lungs.

Key Facts about Tracheal Intubation:

  • Tracheal intubation can be lifesaving in cases where the airway is blocked or when a person is unable to breathe on their own.
  • The procedure is performed by trained healthcare professionals using a laryngoscope or video laryngoscope to visualize the vocal cords and trachea.
  • Once the tube is in place, it is often connected to a ventilator to manage the patient’s breathing.
  • After intubation, healthcare providers frequently monitor the patient to ensure the tube stays in place and the patient is receiving adequate ventilation.

Tracheal Intubation in Medical Practice

How is tracheal intubation performed?

Tracheal intubation typically involves the following steps:

  • The patient is usually placed on their back with their head tilted backwards.
  • Medications are often administered to sedate the patient and relax their muscles.
  • The healthcare provider uses a laryngoscope to open the mouth and visualize the vocal cords.
  • The intubation tube is then inserted through the vocal cords into the trachea.
  • Once the tube is in place, it is often secured with tape or a special holder.

Frequently Asked Questions About Tracheal Intubation

What is tracheal intubation used for?

Tracheal intubation is used to maintain an open airway, to deliver anesthesia during surgery, to facilitate mechanical ventilation in patients who cannot breathe on their own, or to administer certain medications.

Is tracheal intubation painful?

Patients are typically sedated before tracheal intubation, so they do not feel pain during the procedure. After intubation, there may be some discomfort or a sore throat once the sedation wears off.


  1. Mayo Clinic. (n.d.). Tracheal intubation. Retrieved July 31, 2023, from
  2. MedlinePlus. (2023). Tracheal intubation. Retrieved July 31, 2023, from