According to About.com, the breathing tube placed down a patient's throat is called an "endotracheal tube." Medline Plus indicates that this is part of a procedure known as endotracheal intubation.
During intubation, the tube is inserted into the patient's nose or mouth and fed into the trachea, Medline Plus explains. Afterward, the patient is often hooked up to a breathing machine. The procedure is frequently done for breathing emergencies. In addition, it is used when removing obstructions from the airway or providing oxygen, medication or anesthesia.
MedlinePlus identifies bleeding and infection as risks when putting in an endotracheal tube. Certain body parts are vulnerable to injury, including the larynx, thyroid, vocal cords, trachea, esophagus or