Mechanical Ventilation



Intubation is placing a tube in your throat to help move air in and out of your lungs. Mechanical ventilation is the use of a machine to move air in and out of your lungs.

Endotracheal Intubation
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Possible Complications

Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:

  • Damage to teeth, lips, or tongue
  • Damage to the trachea or voicebox resulting in pain, hoarseness, or difficulty breathing after the tube is removed
  • Esophageal intubation—when the tube is accidentally inserted into the esophagus and stomach rather than the trachea
  • Low blood pressure
  • Too little or too much ventilation
  • Pneumonia
  • Lung injury/collasped lung
  • Infection

Some factors that may increase the risk of complications include:

  • Smoking
  • Neck or cervical spine injury
  • Pre-existing lung disease, such as emphysema
  • Poor condition of teeth
  • Recent meal
  • Dehydration
  • Diseases that cause muscle weakness, such as myasthenia gravis
  • Obesity

When possible talk to your doctor about these risks before the procedure.



This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.


American Lung Association 

Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America 


Health Canada 

The Lung Association 


Mechanical ventilation. Anaesthesia & Intensive Care website. Available at: Accessed August 29, 2018.

Mechanical ventilation. American Thoracic Society website. Available at: Accessed August 29, 2018.

Explore ventilator/ventilator support. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: Accessed August 29, 2018.