Some patients require full support to breathe. These patients are connected to a ventilator (breathing machine) with a breathing tube. When a breathing tube is required to support breathing it is called ‘invasive ventilation'.
Breathing tubes are inserted while the patient is under anaesthetic. Patients are given sedation to help them manage having a breathing tube. Patients can not talk, eat or drink while the tube is being used to support breathing.
An endotracheal tube is a common type of breathing tube. It is placed into the mouth and down the windpipe (trachea) to the lungs. The other end of the tube is connected to the ventilator. Doctors use the ventilator to maintain the right pressures and oxygen levels in the lungs.
Another type of breathing tube connected to an opening in the neck is a tracheostomy tube.