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Gastrostomy Feeding Tube Placement

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KEY POINTS

  • Gastrostomy feeding tube placement is a procedure to put a tube through your child’s belly to give your child fluid, liquid food, and medicines.
  • Ask your provider how long it will take to recover and how to take care of your child at home.
  • Make sure you know what symptoms or problems you should watch for and what to do if your child has them.

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What is gastrostomy feeding tube placement?

Gastrostomy feeding tube placement is a procedure for putting a tube directly into your child’s stomach through the belly wall. The tube can be used to give your child fluid, liquid food, and medicines.

When is it used?

This procedure may be done if your child cannot eat or swallow normally. For example, your child may need a gastrostomy feeding tube if:

  • Your child cannot swallow or cannot burp on his own.
  • Your child cannot eat enough food, or his body is not getting all of the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients it needs. For example, your child is getting medical treatment, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy, that is making it hard for your child to eat enough.

Before having a gastrostomy feeding tube, your child may have a temporary feeding tube that is passed through the nose or mouth and down into the stomach. A gastrostomy tube is more comfortable than a nose tube and it may be used if your child needs a feeding tube for a long time.

Ask your healthcare provider about your child’s choices for treatment and the risks.

How do I prepare my child for this procedure?

  • Tell your provider if your child has any food, medicine, or other allergies such as latex.
  • Your child may or may not need to take his regular medicines the day of the procedure. Tell the healthcare provider about all medicines and supplements that your child takes. Some products may increase your child’s risk of side effects. Ask the healthcare provider if your child needs to avoid taking any medicine or supplements before the procedure.
  • Your provider will tell you when your child should stop eating and drinking before the procedure, including fluid and foods that are given through a temporary feeding tube. This helps to keep your child from vomiting during the procedure.
  • Follow any instructions your child’s healthcare provider may give you.
  • Ask any questions you have before the procedure. You should understand what the healthcare provider is going to do. You have the right to make decisions about your child’s healthcare and to give permission for any tests or procedures.

What happens during the procedure?

Your child will be given a local, regional, or general anesthetic before the procedure to keep him from feeling pain. Local and regional anesthesia numb part of the body while your child stays awake. Your child may be given medicine with the local or regional anesthetic to help him relax. General anesthesia relaxes the muscles and your child will be asleep.

The healthcare provider will make a cut in the left side of your child’s belly and put a tube in the stomach or the first part of the intestines. The tube will be held in place by a small fluid-filled balloon or a plastic cap inside your child’s stomach. The healthcare provider will attach the tube inside the stomach and to your child’s skin.

What happens after the procedure?

This procedure is usually done in a hospital or surgery center. Your child may go home the same day, or may stay in the hospital for several days, depending on his condition. You will be taught how to use and care for the feeding tube before your child leaves the hospital. It can usually be used within 12 to 24 hours after the procedure.

Liquid food may be passed through the tube into your child’s stomach with a special syringe or with a pump. You will be given instructions for how much, when, how long, and how often you should give liquid food and other fluids. If your child needs the tube for a long time, it may need to be replaced with a new tube some time later. Replacing the tube is a procedure that often can be done in a healthcare provider's office.

Discuss your child’s medicines with his healthcare provider. You can get many medicines in liquid form instead of tablets and they can be given through the feeding tube with a syringe. Other medicines can be dissolved in water and given through the feeding tube. Always flush the feeding tube with water after putting medicines or food in it to keep the tube from getting clogged.

Your child may have changes in his bowel movements. Your child’s bowel movements may be looser, or they may be less frequent and harder than normal.

Make sure that your child’s feeding tube is carefully secured to his belly. A feeding tube should not keep your child from returning to school or most activities. If you have questions about this, ask your child’s healthcare provider.

Follow the healthcare provider's instructions. Ask your child’s provider:

  • How long it will take to recover
  • If there are activities your child should avoid and when he can return to normal activities
  • How to take care of your child at home
  • What symptoms or problems you should watch for and what to do if your child has them

Make sure you know when your child should come back for a checkup. Keep all appointments for provider visits or tests.

You can get more information on support groups, diet, equipment, and other concerns from:

What are the risks of this procedure?

Every procedure or treatment has risks. Some possible risks of this procedure include:

  • Your child may have problems with anesthesia.
  • Your child may have infection or bleeding.
  • Other parts of your child’s body may be injured during the procedure.

Ask your healthcare provider how these risks apply to your child. Be sure to discuss any other questions or concerns that you may have.

Developed by RelayHealth.
Pediatric Advisor 2015.3 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2015-05-15
Last reviewed: 2015-02-17
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.
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