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The improper placement of an endotracheal tube, intended to provide a conduit for air to and from the lungs, into the esophagus. It is a common and potentially life-threatening occurrence during anesthesia and critical illnesses.
Health care practitioners have several means at their disposal to try to recognize esophageal intubation. These include direct observation of the endotracheal tube, as it passes through the vocal cords, or capnography.
CAUTION!Failure to recognize esophageal intubation can result in inadequate oxygenation of the patient.
See also: intubation
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