What is a feeding tube?
A feeding tube is an effective and safe way to provide liquids, food and medications directly into the stomach. This is done when a patient has difficulty swallowing.
A feeding tube is also known as a percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG).
Why do I need this procedure?
Your doctor recommends that this be done to maintain adequate nutrition.
Reasons someone may need a feeding tube include:
- Severe nutritional problems
- Severe dehydration
- Fear of suffocation from choking or aspiration
Special considerations for feeding tube patients
Because an incision will be made, it is important that you tell your doctor if you are taking blood thinners and/or aspirin products. They should be stopped for one week before the feeding tube procedure or according to your doctor’s specific directions. You will need to have a blood test prior to the procedure to check for bleeding time.
What happens during a feeding tube procedure?
- During the procedure, you will be sedated by the anesthesia department. The endoscopy physician uses an endoscope (a long, thin, flexible tube about ½-inch in diameter) into your mouth.
- The endoscopist advances the scope through your esophagus (“food pipe” leading from your mouth to your stomach) and into your stomach.
- A surgeon will make a small incision in your abdomen after injecting a local anesthetic through which the PEG tube will exit the skin. The doctors work together utilizing the scope and a special PEG kit to place the feeding tube properly in the stomach.
- You will have a small dressing (bandage) at the exit site. Antibiotic ointment will be placed at the site prior to the dressing. Care instructions will be given to you and your significant other before you go home.
- You will go to the Post-Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU), as with other endoscopic procedures.
- Care instructions will be given to you and your significant other before you go home.
- You and/or your caregiver will be taught how to feed you through the tube directly into your stomach.
- A sterile gauze dressing will be in place around the incision. You should expect to see some drainage around the PEG tube for the first 24 to 48 hours.
- Once the area has healed and the dressing is removed, be sure to wash the area daily with soap and water.
- You may have mild soreness in your abdomen for a few days where the tube is inserted. This will feel like a pulled muscle. Your doctor may order pain medication for the first few days after the procedure.
After the procedure
The amount of care needed for PEG tubes varies. Generally, they do not need to be replaced for several months and may function well for up to two or three years. PEG tubes can be replaced through the same healed incision if it remains healthy and can be done with or without anesthesia depending on your specific needs.
Contact your physician if you have any difficulty with your PEG tube, incision site or feedings.
If you have any questions about DMC Sinai-Grace Hospital endoscopy services, please call 313-966-6969. For questions about DMC Lahser Ambulatory Center endoscopy services, call 248-359-5575.