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What Is Intubation Sedation?

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  • Written By: S. Berger
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 24 November 2016
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Intubation is a procedure sometimes used during medical treatment used to allow individuals to breathe freely. It involves inserting a flexible tube through the mouth or nose, into the trachea, a portion of the airway. Muscle movements, including the gag reflex, can make this procedure difficult to perform, however. To ease the process of airway management, intubation sedation is sometimes used in order to insert tubing toward the lungs, or occasionally, to the stomach. Various drugs may be employed for this purpose, which have different benefits and disadvantages.

Generally, intubation sedation is a medical procedure undertaken by professionals. Shock, seizures, and a loss of lung pressure are all possible reasons for intubation. Depending on the circumstances, including the specific medical condition as well as a patient's overall physical health and mental state, medical personnel may make the decision as to whether anesthesia is required. Conditions such as head injury, lung disease, and asthma may increase the likelihood that this type of sedation will be used. Muscle spasms and airway complications can determine whether a local anesthetic could be beneficial in addition to more traditional anesthetics that cause unconsciousness.

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Often, emergency situations can require the use of intubation sedation to ensure an open airway while other medical procedures are performed. Etomidate or midazolam are common drugs used to help put an individual under anesthesia rapidly, but they do not always prevent muscle spasms, and they do not control pain. In order to prevent involuntary movements and reactions to the tubing, medical personnel usually choose to provide a local anesthetic like rocuronium. Other substances to manage pain, such as narcotics, may also be given to a person in this situation to ease the process further. Doses of these compounds must be carefully managed to prevent dangerous side effects.

During intubation sedation, oxygen is provided to the individual as they may not be able to breathe on their own due to the drugs used. For surgical situations, other medications may be provided to allow for more precise control of anesthesia while minimizing the potential risks that could occur during this process. Atropine is a drug that blocks signals that tell the heart to slow down, and it is sometimes given to help prevent low heart rates. Another common medication used in intubation sedation, may be used when vital signs can be carefully monitored, as it can induce unconsciousness quickly, but its effects do not last long. Individual differences and medical situations can often influence the course of this procedure, but in the hands of trained people, they can all provide effective airway management.

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