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Intubation and Ventilation

(757) 668-7000

A ventilator is a machine used to help your child breathe. There are many reasons why a child may need help to breathe. These might include prematurity, pneumonia, operations that last a long time, or other situations that keep the lungs from working normally.

A doctor will place a small tube through your child's nose or mouth into the windpipe (trachea). This tube will be attached to the plastic tubing from the ventilator, which provides oxygen and breathes for your child.

This tube needs to stay in place, as it acts as your child's airway. To be sure the tube does not move or come out, the tube will be secured to your child's face with a special tape or securement device. Your child may be given medicine to keep him/her comfortable and quiet. A restraint may be used to prevent your child from pulling the tube out.

While the tube is in place, your child will not be able to talk. When your child can breathe well on his/her own, the tube will be removed. Your child may still need oxygen after the tube is removed. Your child may have a sore throat, sound hoarse, and/or be congested for a few days after the tube is removed. This is normal.

While the breathing tube is in place, your child will need to be suctioned. Suctioning helps remove secretions from the trachea and lungs. It keeps the tube clear so that your child can receive breaths more easily. This procedure can be uncomfortable for your child.

Your child will be connected to a pulse oximeter. A pulse oximeter is a machine that measures oxygen saturation (the amount of oxygen) in your child’s blood. To get this measurement, a small sensor (like a band-aid) is taped onto your child’s finger or toe. When the oximeter is on, a small red light can be seen in the sensor. The sensor is painless and the red light does not get hot.

Blood tests may also be done to check how much oxygen and carbon dioxide is in your child's blood. These tests show how well the lungs are working and are used to make changes in the ventilator.


Disclaimer:This information is not intended to substitute or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your child's physician. The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your child's physician with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition.

Reviewed: 02/2018

(757) 668-7000