An ETT is an advanced measure of airway management, where a catheter is inserted in the trachea generally through the mouth. This creates a direct passage between mechanical ventilator, which simulates breathing, and the lungs, where gaseous exchange occurs. ETT is most commonly used in unconscious or sedated patients, where the patient may lose spontaneous breathing, also bringing about benefits like protection from aspiration of gastric contents into the lungs, which lead to infection and complications. Considerable amount of attention is given to the intubation procedure, avoiding trauma and infection.
Preparing a patient for intubation requires the patient to be positioned in the ‘sniff in the morning’, that being body straight with head slightly tilted to the front to obtain a straight airway. An anaesthetist will perform this procedure and the nurse prepares the necessary: an intubation set including an Ambu with face mask and other connectors and a laryngoscope with different blade sizes and muscle relaxant (Atracurium) and sedation (Propofol) medication are prepared.
Once everything is checked that is in perfect working order, the anaesthetist, positioned behind the patient’s head, starts by giving the first IV bolus of Propofol later followed by the Atracurium. From this point onwards sedation will be administered by the nurse, and the anaesthetist will keep the head in position to maintain an open airway and bag the patient for 1-minute using the soft Ambu attached to the mask with 100% oxygen at 10-15l/min to hyper-oxygenate. After this 1-minute the first try for intubation is began and this should be no longer than 30secoonds.
A laryngoscope is then inserted from the right side pushing the tongue to the side and lower, this will create physical space to see the epiglottis and the laryngoscope will be advanced slightly more to see the larynx. Once identified, the ETT is carefully advanced from the right side over the laryngoscope and straight between the larynxes. Then the tube is advanced up to 21-24cm from its markings, laryngoscope withdrawn and the soft Ambu is now connected with a specific connector to attach to the ETT. The anaesthetist will now bag and auscultate over the chest to check position of ETT, and to check that air is going into both sides of lung, or only a single side or worse the stomach. During the process the nurse may be requested to give more boluses of sedation, depending on what the anaesthetist encounters.
Once the position is confirmed, the ETT is secured using a tie or a facial adhesive. The patient is then connected to the ventilator, where the anaesthetist gives the initial setting and liaises with the nurse on the aims and guidelines needed to safeguard the patient’s health and especially avoid unnecessary complications. Continuous sedation is as well started as now the patient is preferably left unconscious to stabilise, as a patient may extubated once semi-conscious and agitated. Parameters post-intubation are checked and charted, blood gases are taken and analysed. Shortly after insertion a chest X-ray is performed to verify positioning thanks to the radio-opaque strip incorporated in the ETT.