Medical Services
Home / Medical Services / Critical Care / Equipment You May See
Equipment You May See

Your loved one will be in a private room with many different pieces of equipment. You will find that they may have many tubes and lines in place while in the Center for Cardiac & Critical Care. Most of these are temporary and will be removed when they are no longer needed.

PLEASE BE AWARE: There are many different beeps, buzzes and alarms all creating different noises in the Center for Cardiac & Critical Care. The nurses and other team members know these alarms. Each piece of equipment has its own alarm telling the nurse what is happening.

Equipment you might see in the Center for Cardiac & Critical Care:

Arterial Line (Art Line)

This is a small hollow (thin tube) that is inserted directly into the artery (usually in the arm). The line is attached to the monitor and is used to continuously monitor blood pressure.

Blood Pressure Cuff (BP Cuff)

A cuff will be placed on the patient’s arm or leg. This will be automatically inflated as needed. The blood pressure is recorded on the monitor in each room.

Chest Tubes

These are tubes that assist with the drainage of air or fluid from around the lungs. Removing this fluid and air from around the lungs allows them to expand fully. Chest tubes drain into a large plastic container near the foot of the patient’s bed. There can be one or more of these tubes in place.

Cooling or Warming Blanket

Depending on the situation we can either warm or cool the patient as needed using a blanket under or on top of the patient.

Endotracheal Tube (ET Tube)

The ET Tube is inserted through the mouth or nose and passes down the throat and into the air passages to help breathing. Your loved one cannot speak with this tube because the tube has passed through the vocal chords. This is the tube that connects the respirator to your loved one. When this tube is in place you will find that your loved one may have their wrists tied down (restrained). This is necessary to protect the tube from being accidentally removed. It is vital to ensure that this tube is not pulled out. Please do not remove these restraints without the nurse’s permission and please do not leave the bedside without the patient being restrained correctly.

Feeding Tubes and Pump

Some patients may not be able to eat in the usual manner. It is important for the body to receive nutrition to heal, so these individuals may require feeding tubes to provide their nutrition. The tubes may be placed in the nose to the stomach, or the mouth to the stomach. A feeding pump delivers the liquid feedings.

Foley Catheter

A Foley Catheter is a drainage tube which is placed into the bladder. It allows urine to drain continuously into a plastic bag hanging low by the foot of the bed. This is how we can monitor how much urine the patient produces.

Heart Monitor

The bedside monitor looks like a TV screen with continuously displayed wave forms. It is attached to the patient’s chest with sticky pads. From this monitor, the heart rate, rhythm, blood pressure, oxygenation, as well as other values are monitored. This monitor screen can be viewed at the nurses’ station and from any monitor from any room. All patients in critical care have a heart monitor.

Intravenous (IV) and Pump

A small plastic hollow needle is inserted into the vein. This is how fluid and medications are directly delivered to the patient. These may be used for patients who are not able to tolerate tube feeding. The pump regulates the rate and amount of fluid and medication the patient receives.


Many critical care patients require oxygen. This is delivered in many different ways: 

    • Nasal cannula: small tubes that fit in the nose and go over the ears 
    • Mask: this is used to deliver higher levels of oxygen 
    • BiPAP: a tightly fitted mask covering the nose and mouth that delivers highly pressurized oxygen

Nasogastric Tube (NG)

This tube is inserted through the nose into the stomach. It can be attached to suction to remove gastric secretions. It can also be used to put liquid food into the stomach.

Pulse Oximeter/Oxygen Saturation Monitor (Sat Monitor)

This measures the oxygen in the blood and the patient’s pulse by using a small probe which is attached to a finger or ear.


Soft wrist and sometimes ankle restraints are used to protect patients from removing equipment or from hurting themselves. They are applied for patient safety. Please do not remove or loosen them without permission of the nurse.

Sequential Compression Devices (SCD)

By inflating and deflating with air, SCD stockings mimic the muscle action of walking and increase the circulation in the patient’s legs. This is important when the patient is not moving and unable to get out of bed. You will hear the quiet pumping action of the machine.

Suction Tubes

It may be necessary to suction fluids from the mouth or lungs. When the patient is suctioned, they will cough. Coughing helps to clear away fluids.

TED Hose

TED Hose are anti-embolic stockings, which are tight knee or thigh-high stockings that support the leg muscles and help prevent pooling of blood in veins of the legs. 

The Bed

The beds continuously adjust pressure points and are able to be placed in multiple positions. Please do not adjust the head of the bed, the level of the bed, or lower the side rails.

Tracheostomy Tube (Trach)

This breathing tube is usually inserted through the neck when the patient has been on a ventilator. Under special circumstances, it is possible to eat and talk with this tube.

Ventilators/Respirators (Vents or sometimes known as life support machines)

These are used to support or replace the function of the lungs, by pushing air into the lungs. This machine is attached to a “breathing tube” which may be inserted via the mouth or nose down into the windpipe. It can also be attached to a trach which is surgically placed into the trachea. They will not be able to speak to you when this tube is in place.

There are many other lines, tubes and pieces of equipment used in the Center for Cardiac & Critical Care. Please ask your nurse if you see something that you do not understand or is new in the room. He or she will be happy to answer your questions.