Peg Tube & Enteral Feeding Procedures

Illness or injury can interfere with the ability to swallow or ingest food by mouth. A percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) is a procedure used to provide adequate nutrition via a feeding tube, also known as an enteral tube, inserted into the abdomen. The PEG tube is placed temporarily or permanently depending upon the severity of the condition necessitating its placement. This procedure is performed on children and adults.

Inserting the PEG tube

On its website, the Cleveland Clinic states when having this procedure, you will be given a sedative that is administered intravenously. The sedative will make you drowsy, but you will be awake. An endoscopic tube with a camera attached is inserted through the oesophagus into the stomach to enable your doctor to select the area where the feeding tube will be placed. Your doctor will then insert the feeding tube through a small incision in your abdomen after a local anesthetic has been used to numb the area.

The design of feeding tubes prevents them from becoming dislodged. One design contains a wire that is pulled after the tube is inserted. This curls the end inside the stomach, thereby securing it in place. Another type is secured by inflating a balloon on the internal end after the tube is inserted. There is some initial sensitivity after insertion of feeding tubes, but this will pass. The procedure takes approximately 30 minutes, and patients may usually go home the same day, however, some are required to stay overnight. A feeding tube is not painful and does not visibly protrude under your clothing.

Tube Feeding

The nutritional products available to you for use with your tube feedings will supply you with all the nutrients needed to maintain your health. Before you leave the hospital, a nurse or dietitian will instruct you on the use and maintenance of the PEG tube. Most feeding formulas require the addition of water to keep you hydrated. Ensure is one of the manufacturers of formulas for tube feeding, but it is important to use only the products recommended by your nurse or dietitian because they are selected to meet your individual dietary needs.

The Oral Cancer Foundation states food is slowly delivered through the feeding tube to avoid problems such as cramps, nausea, gas, or diarrhoea. One type of PEG tube can be connected to a pump to allow continuous feeding. This system has to be flushed with water every 4 to 8 hours to prevent clogging. Another method utilises a bag attached to the tube to provide feedings every 4 to 6 hours via a drip system. This system also allows for the administration of medications through the feeding tube.

The location of the feeding tube must be scrupulously cleaned each day and checked for any signs of irritation, swelling, or drainage. A feeding tube will last approximately six months before it will have to be replaced. Replacement is a simple procedure that involves pulling out the tube and replacing it with a new one without the need for your doctor to insert another endoscope through the oesophagus to view the stomach.

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About the Author

Sara Tomm began writing in 1971. She holds certificates in the medical, physiological and nutritional principles and treatment modalities for eating disorders. As a weight-management consultant, Tomm authored educational materials relating to the medical, psychological, environmental and social aspects of eating disorders, nutrition and physical fitness. She studied at Columbia University, Henry George School of Social Science, Farmingdale State College and Suffolk Community College.