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the insertion of a tube, as into the larynx; see also cannulation and catheterization. The purpose of intubation varies with the location and type of tube inserted; generally it is done to allow drainage, to maintain an open airway, or to administer anesthetics or oxygen.

Intubation into the stomach or intestine is done to remove gastric or intestinal contents for the relief or prevention of distention, or to obtain a specimen for analysis. Another example of intubation is when a tube is inserted into the common bile duct to allow for drainage of bile from ducts draining the liver, done after surgery on the gallbladder or the common bile duct. Endotracheal intubation can be achieved by insertion of an endotracheal tube, sometimes containing a stylet, via the mouth or nose with the aid of a laryngoscope. It is done for the purpose of assuring patency of the upper airway. tracheostomy is a form of endotracheal intubation.
gastrointestinal intubation in the nursing interventions classification, a nursing intervention defined as insertion of a tube into the gastrointestinal tract.
Miller-Keane Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health, Seventh Edition. © 2003 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier, Inc. All rights reserved.


Insertion of a tubular device into a canal, hollow organ, or cavity; specifically, passage of an orotracheal or nasotracheal tube for anesthesia or for control of pulmonary ventilation.
[L. in, in, + tuba, tube]
Farlex Partner Medical Dictionary © Farlex 2012


The placement of a tube for respiratory support or gastric feeding. See Gastric intubation. Cf Extubation.
McGraw-Hill Concise Dictionary of Modern Medicine. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


Insertion of a tubular device into a canal, hollow organ, or cavity; specifically, passage of an orotracheal or nasotracheal tube for anesthesia or for control of pulmonary ventilation.
[L. in, in, + tuba, tube]
Medical Dictionary for the Health Professions and Nursing © Farlex 2012


(in?too-ba'shon, tu-)
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OROTRACHEAL INTUBATION: endotracheal tube with bag-mask ventilation
The insertion of a tube into any hollow organ. Intubation of the trachea provides an open airway and thus is an essential step in advanced life support. It also permits the instillation of certain critical care drugs, such as lidocaine, epinephrine, and atropine, which the lungs can absorb directly when other forms of internal access are unavailable. In the patient with no evidence of head or cervical spine trauma, using a head-tilt, chin-lift maneuver to place the patient in a “sniffing” position facilitates intubation of the trachea. See: illustration

Intubation of other structures, such as the organs of the upper gastrointestinal tract, may permit enteral nutrition, the dilation of strictures, or the visualization of internal anatomy.

endotracheal intubation

The insertion of an endotracheal tube through the nose or mouth into the trachea to maintain the airway, to administer an anesthetic gas or oxygen, or to aspirate secretions.


Endotracheal intubation can be hazardous to patients with injuries to, or instability of, the cervical vertebra. In trauma patients suspected of cervical fracture, or in patients (such as those with advanced rheumatoid arthritis) who may have an unstable cervical spine, it is safer to use nasotracheal, rather than orotracheal intubation to control the airway.

esophageal intubation

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.

Patient care

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.


Failure to recognize esophageal intubation can result in inadequate oxygenation of the patient.

nasogastric intubation

The insertion of a Levine or other gastrointestinal tube through the nose into the stomach.
See: gastric lavage; nasogastric tube

nasotracheal intubation

The insertion of an endotracheal tube through the nose and into the trachea. Unlike orotracheal intubation, the tube is passed “blindly” without using a laryngoscope to visualize the glottic opening. Because this technique may be used without hyperextension of the neck, it is used in patients suspected of having cervical spinal trauma or known to have oral lesions. Endotracheal tubes inserted nasally need to be of smaller diameter than those inserted orally.


Endotracheal tubes frequently irritate the nasopharynx, and can cause both bleeding (on insertion), and sinusitis.
See: endotracheal intubation

rapid sequence intubation

Abbreviation: RSI
An airway control technique that uses powerful sedatives and paralytic drugs to quickly gain control of the airway, e.g., in life-threatening emergencies.

stomach intubation

Passage of a tube into the stomach to obtain gastric contents for examination, for prophylaxis and treatment of ileus, to remove ingested poisons, or for feeding.
Medical Dictionary, © 2009 Farlex and Partners


The passage of any tube, such as a CATHETER or windpipe (tracheal) AIRWAY into any organ or tubular structure in the body. Intubation may be done to keep a passageway, such as the LARYNX, open, to withdraw a specimen for analysis, or to administer a drug.
Collins Dictionary of Medicine © Robert M. Youngson 2004, 2005


The insertion of a tube into the patient's airway to protect the airway from collapsing. Intubation is sometimes done as an emergency procedure for patients with epiglottitis.
Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


Insertion of a tubular device into a canal, hollow organ, or cavity.
[L. in, in, + tuba, tube]
Medical Dictionary for the Dental Professions © Farlex 2012
References in periodicals archive ?
(2.) Murphy P A fibre-optic endoscope used for nasal intubation. Anaesthesia 1967;22(3):489-491.
Our findings also emphasize the utility of awake FFB nasal intubation in postburn pediatric patients with fixed flexion deformity related nonalignment of the oral, pharyngeal, and laryngeal planes for intubation [2, 4], provided that measures to enable sufficient patient cooperation were implied.
Cuff inflation-supplemented laryngoscope-guided nasal intubation: a comparison of three endotracheal tubes.
During nasotracheal intubation, trauma to inferior turbinate is more common than middle turbinate because of its anatomic location and closer proximity to the endotracheal tube during nasal intubation. (7) However preexisting intranasal abnormalities, such as an enlarged inferior turbinate or a septal spur, by redirecting the nasotracheal tube higher into the nasal cavity increase the risk of middle turbinate trauma.
Nasal intubation using a rigid direct laryngoscope and Magill forceps also carries the risk of injury to vulnerable teeth.
There have been very few reports published on complications after DRGA involving nasal intubation. The purpose of this study was to investigate postoperative discomfort in children undergoing DRGA via oral and nasal intubation in the first 24 hours after discharge.
After uneventful nasal intubation, anaesthesia was maintained with sevoflurane (endtidal concentration: 2.0 to 2.2%) in oxygen and nitrous oxide.
During nasal intubation, the inferior turbinate is at greater risk of trauma than is the middle turbinate because it is closer to the nasotracheal tube.
In the very next year (1966), in a seminal article in British Medical Journal, Stocks JG[3] pointed out the importance of selecting appropriate size of tracheal tube as fundamental to the success of prolonged nasal intubation in children.