Endotracheal intubation of small exotic mammals (Proceedings)
Intubation provides better airway control than a face mask and minimizes the risk of aspiration. This is especially important for complex and prolonged procedures, when complications such as respiratory obstruction and hypoventilation are more likely to occur. Rabbits and rodents are difficult to intubate. They have a large tongue, large molars, a small larynx, and a soft palate that easily obscures the epiglottis. While intubation of small mammals is difficult, it should be the routine standard of care all patients as long as it can be done quickly and safely.
Endotracheal intubation is the placement of a tube that extends from the oral cavity into the trachea. It is indicated for the administration of oxygen and inhalation anesthesia, to ensure a patent airway in unconscious patients, to provide ventilatory assistance, and to provide a conduit into the trachea to permit diagnostic and therapeutic measures (e.g. endoscopy, tracheal wash, direct instillation of medications).Intubation methods
Various intubation techniques have been suggested for small mammals. Some of these require specialty equipment, and all require practice. Intubation methods can be divided into those that are performed blind or with visualization of the larynx.
By properly positioning the head and neck, the pathway from the oropharynx to the trachea is straightened so that an endotracheal tube can be placed without direct visualization of the larynx. This is possible with the aid of laryngeal palpation, patient response (i.e. coughing, gagging), and listening for patient respiration through the endotracheal tube itself. Under special circumstances, a transtracheally-placed catheter may be used as a guide.
Divided into direct visualization and indirect visualization of the glottis.
Endotracheal tube size/style for selected species