Feeding Tube Placement

Overview

A feeding tube insertion is the placement of a feeding tube through the skin and the stomach wall, directly into the stomach. Alternative names for the procedure include: Gastrostomy tube insertion; G-tube insertion; PEG tube insertion; Stomach tube insertion; Percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy tube insertion.

feeding tube placement into the stomach

Reasons For Feeding Tube Insertion

Gastrostomy feeding tubes are put in for different reasons. They may be needed for a short while or permanently. This procedure may be recommended for:

  • Patients who cannot swallow correctly
  • Patients who cannot take enough food by mouth to stay healthy
  • Patients who often breathe in food when eating

 

What To Expect

Before the procedure the patient is required to fast overnight (6 to 12 hours before). The patient is given a sedative and a painkiller and in most cases, these medicines are given through a vein (IV line). A numbing medicine may be sprayed into the patient’s mouth to prevent the urge to cough or gag when the endoscope is inserted. A mouth guard will be inserted to protect the patient’s teeth and the endoscope. Dentures must be removed.

While the patient is deep asleep and pain-free (general anesthesia), a small incision is made on the left side of the abdomen. A small, flexible, hollow tube (catheter) with a balloon or flared tip is inserted into the stomach. The stomach is stitched closed around the tube and the incision is closed.

Alternatively, gastrostomy tubes can be placed under endoscopic guidance, using a much smaller incision (percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy tube placement, or PEG). PEG tube placement can generally be performed under local anesthesia rather than general anesthesia. An endoscope is passed into the mouth, down the esophagus, and into the stomach. The surgeon can then see the stomach wall through which the PEG tube will pass. Under direct visualization with the endoscope, a PEG tube passes through the skin of the abdomen, through a very small incision, and into the stomach. A balloon is then blown up on the end of the tube, holding in place. PEG gastrostomy tubes avoid the need for general anesthesia and a large incision.

feeding tube placement overview

What Happens Afterwards?

The stomach and abdomen will heal in 5 to 7 days. Moderate pain can be treated with medications. The patient will be fed intravenously (IV) for at least 24 hours. Feedings will start slowly with clear liquids, and increase slowly.

The patient/family will be taught:

  • How to care for the skin around the tube
  • Signs and symptoms of infection
  • What to do if the tube is pulled out
  • Signs and symptoms of tube blockage
  • How to empty the stomach through the tube
  • How and what to feed through the tube
  • How to hide the tube under clothing
  • What normal activities can be continued

Reprinted and modified from The National Library of Medicine & The National Institutes of Health