What is a feeding tube?
Feeding tube may provide nutrition to people who have difficulty swallowing or unable to eat for medical reasons. A feeding tube is device which transports liquid nutrition to your stomach. A feeding tube can be inserted into the stomach (G-tubes), through the nose and into the stomach (NG-tubes), or through the nose and into the small intestine (NJ tubes). The NG and NJ tubes are considered to be temporary and the G tube is considered more permanent but it can be removed.
Types of feeding tubes:
A nasogastric feeding tube or NG-tube is passed through the nares (nostril), down the esophagus and into the stomach. This type of feeding tube is generally used for short term feeding, usually only 2 weeks maximum. Nasogastric feeding tubes are used for long term feeding of infants.
Gastric feeding tube
A gastric feeding tube (G-tube or "button") is a tube inserted through a small incision in the abdomen into the stomach and is used for long-term enteral nutrition. One type is the percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) tube which is placed endoscopically. The position of the endoscope can be visualized on the outside of the patient's abdomen because it contains a powerful light source. A needle is inserted through the abdomen, visualized within the stomach by the endoscope, and a suture passed through the needle is grasped by the endoscope and pulled up through the esophagus. The suture is then tied to the end of the PEG tube that will be external, and pulled back down through the esophagus, stomach, and out through the abdominal wall. The insertion takes about 20 minutes. The tube is kept within the stomach either by a balloon on its tip (which can be deflated) or by a retention dome which is wider than the tract of the tube.
Gastric feeding tubes are suitable for long-term use, though they sometimes need to be replaced if used long term. The G-tube can be useful where there is difficulty with swallowing because of neurologic or anatomic disorders (stroke, esophageal atresia, tracheoesophageal fistula), and to avoid the risk of aspiration pneumonia.
Jejunostomy feeding tube
A jejunostomy feeding tube (J-tube) is a tube surgically inserted through the abdomen and into the jejunum (the second part of the small intestine). The procedure is called a jejunostomy.
How do you prevent the feeding tube from becoming blocked?