Intubation is required when a patient has difficulty breathing and needs ventilatory assistance. A hollow tube is inserted into the trachea and held in place by a small inflated balloon. If intubation is required for more than a few weeks, a tracheostomy is used to replace it.
Most endotracheal intubations are done using a laryngoscope, which holds the tongue and epiglottis out of the way while the health care provider inserts the ETT (endotracheal tube).
Following ETT placement, the provider listens for bilateral breath sounds, watches for the chest to rise, and usually orders a portable chest x-ray to check ETT placement.