The stomach tube, also known as a feeding tube or gastrostomy tube, is a revolutionary device that provides direct access to the stomach for feeding and medication administration. For individuals who have lost the ability to eat normally due to injuries or medical conditions, the stomach tube can be a life-saving solution to deliver essential nutrients and medicines.
A stomach tube is a flexible tube that is placed through the abdomen into the stomach under endoscopic guidance. The most common types of stomach tubes include nasogastric tubes, gastrostomy tubes, and jejunostomy tubes. Nasogastric tubes enter through the nose while gastrostomy and jejunostomy tubes enter directly through the abdomen. These tubes allow liquid nutrition, pureed food, and medications to be delivered directly to the stomach or small intestine.
For long-term use, gastrostomy tubes, more commonly known as G-tubes or PEG tubes, are the preferred option. A PEG tube is placed endoscopically and allows patients to be fed for months to years. For tube feeding through a PEG tube, commercial formula and liquid nutrition products are commonly used. Patients who cannot receive 100% of their nutrition through tube feeding may also eat certain solid foods as tolerated, such as pureed fruits and vegetables.
Tube feeding at home requires proper care and maintenance of the stomach tube to prevent complications like infections, blockages, and skin irritation. The tube must be flushed regularly with water to prevent clogs. The tube site should be cleaned daily and inspected regularly for any signs of infection like redness or discharge. The tube position should also be checked to ensure correct placement in the stomach.
Tube feeding can deliver a balanced and complete nutritional formula to patients when oral intake is not possible. For people with digestive disorders or injuries that prevent eating, the stomach tube is a convenient lifeline for nutrition and medication administration that allows them to avoid hospitalization and live at home. With proper care and management, tube feeding through a stomach tube can provide an excellent solution for long term nutrition.