- Nose to the stomach (nasogastric)
- Abdominal wall to the stomach ( gastrostomy )
- Abdominal wall to the intestines ( enterostomy )
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Reasons for Procedure
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Abdominal cramping or bloating
- Breakdown of the skin surrounding the feeding tube
- Irritated or infected stoma (the opening made in the abdomen)
- High blood sugar (hyperglycemia)
- Higher than normal phosphate levels in the blood
- Nausea and vomiting
- Inhaling the liquid formula into the lungs (aspiration)
- Clogged or dislodged feeding tube
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
- Thoroughly wash their hands before handling the supplies and the tube.
- Set up the supplies. Depending on the feeding method, the supplies may include a syringe, measuring cup, feeding bag, electronic pump, and a pole to hang the bag.
- Use a formula that will provide you with the right amount of protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and fluid.
- Have you sit in an upright position.
- Check to make sure that the tube is in the right position before putting the formula in it—For example, if you have a gastrostomy tube (g-tube), this may be done by using a syringe to extract a small amount of gastric fluids. Also, a ruler may be used to measure the length of the tube. If no gastric fluids are seen or if the length of the tube has changed, this may mean that the tube has become dislodged. You will then need further treatment.
- Use a syringe to flush the tube with water to prepare you for the feeding.
Description of the Procedure
How Long Will It Take?
- Syringe method: 15-20 minutes
- Gravity-drip method: 1-2 hours
- Pump method: varies depending on whether it is continuous feeding (eg, 8-12 hours) or bolus feeding
Will It Hurt?
- Stay in an upright position during the feeding and for 30-60 minutes after the feeding.
- If advised by your doctor, do not exercise after the feeding.
- After thorough hand washing, the stoma site will be cleaned and gently dried.
- Feeding tube supplies will be cleaned with warm water and dish washing soap. The supplies will be thoroughly rinsed and air-dried. For pumps, follow the manufacturer's guidelines.
Call Your Doctor
- Clogged tube
- Dislodged tube—most common during the first 2 weeks
- Choking or difficulty breathing during the feeding
- Leaking of formula around the tube
- Redness, swelling, pain, bleeding, or discharge at the stoma site
- Cough, shortness of breath, chest pain
- Signs of infection, including fever and chills
- Nausea, vomiting, or abdominal swelling
- Severe abdominal pain
- Inability to pass gas or have a bowel movement
- Dehydration —dry mouth, urinating infrequently, dark and/or bad smelling urine
Family Caregiver Alliance http://www.caregiver.org
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians http://familydoctor.org
Canadian Caregiver Coalition http://www.ccc-ccan.ca
Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca
Abdominal and digestive home care: gastrostomy feeding by syringe. Cincinnati Children’s website Available at: http://www.cincinnatichildrens.org/health/info/abdomen/home/g-tube-syringe.htm. Updated October 2012. Accessed December 18, 2014.
Enteral feeding: an overview. Dietetics website. Available at: http://www.dietetics.co.uk/article%5Fenteral%5Ffeeding.asp. Accessed December 18, 2014.
Gravity drip tube feed instructions. University of Maryland Marlene and Steward Greenbaum Cancer Center website. Available at: http://www.umgcc.org/patient%5Finfo/pdf/tube%5Fbolus%5Fgravity.pdf. Accessed December 18, 2014.
Tube feeding. Oral Cancer Foundation website. Available at: http://oralcancerfoundation.org/dental/tube%5Ffeeding.htm. Accessed December 18, 2014.
Tube feeding. UC Davis Cancer Center website. Available at: http://www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/cancer/pedresource/pedres%5Fdocs/tubefeeding.pdf. Updated December 2006. Accessed December 18, 2014.
Tube feeding at home. Queensland Health Government website. Available at: http://www.health.qld.gov.au/nutrition/resources/etf%5Ftfah.pdf. Updated January 2009. Accessed December 18, 2014.
Tube feed tutorial. California State University website. Available at: http://www.csun.edu/~cjh78264/tubefeeding/tfadmin/index.html. Accessed December 18, 2014.
- Reviewer: Daus Mahnke, MD
- Review Date: 12/2014 -
- Update Date: 12/20/2014 -
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
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