Tracheal intubation

Barry McGuire, Kimberley Hodge

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    1 Citation (Scopus)


    Tracheal intubation is the act of placing a tube into the trachea. The tube enables oxygen delivery and removal of carbon dioxide, while also allowing for the administration of pharmacological agents. Intubation is the most reliable method of maintaining an airway under anaesthesia, and for protection against aspiration of stomach contents. Traditionally, intubation is achieved by direct visualization of the glottis, but now indirect laryngoscopy (via a videolaryngoscope) is a common alternative. Prior to embarking upon intubation, a thorough patient history and examination must be undertaken by the laryngoscopist; equipment must be prepared and checked; a trained assistant present; and an experienced anaesthetist available in case assistance is required. Once the endotracheal tube has been placed, correct positioning must be confirmed via both clinical examination and monitoring, including capnography. Tracheal intubation is a procedure that should only be undertaken by trained operators and is not without risk. It is important to note that it is failure to oxygenate patients rather than failure to intubate that ultimately leads to serious morbidity and mortality. The Difficult Airway Society has produced guidelines on how to manage unanticipated difficulty in tracheal intubation; it is essential that every practitioner trained to intubate patients is familiar with these algorithms and the key principles of safe airway management.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)681-686
    Number of pages6
    JournalAnaesthesia and Intensive Care Medicine
    Issue number12
    Early online date29 Nov 2019
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019


    • Airway
    • anaesthesia
    • capnography
    • endotracheal
    • extubation
    • intubation
    • laryngoscopy
    • oxygenation

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine
    • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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