Feeding Tubes


Many medical conditions, diseases, disorders, and people of all ages require the use of feeding tubesTubes are used as nutritional support for patients who would other wise be unable to attain proper nutrition by mouth. Some people use tubes as assistance while also taking food by mouth, others are fed solely by their tubes. A doctor does not make the decision to place a feeding tube lightly. Normally proceeding placement the patient will experience excessive weight loss, severe malnutrition, and a decrease in life quality. Many tests that asses digestive organ function also prove helpful for doctors when contemplating the placement of a tube. 
There are many types of tubes which are categorized by where they enter the body; there are also different brands and styles of tubes. Tubes can be thick with a long hose, or small and desecrate looking very similar to the air valve of an inflatable beach-ball. The type and style of tube a patient received depends on the problem they are encountering, the treatment they are receiving, or the organ that is malfunctioning.


  • Nasogastric tube (NG-tube) An NG-tube is a small thin tube inserted through a persons nose, throat and down into the stomach. The tube is usually attached with tape to the side of the face to hold it in place. NG-tube feeding is usually only a temporary solution. 
  • Nasojejunal tube (NJ-tube) This is similar to the NG-tube except it passes through the stomach into one of the upper parts of the intestine called the jejunum.
  • Gastrostomy Feeding (G-tube or peg tube) G-Tubes are surgically inserted with an endoscope. These are a more permanent option for patients who will require longer term tube feeding. The G -Tube is placed directly into the stomach.
  • Gastrostomy-Jejunostomy or GJ-tube (Transgastric-Jejunal or TJ tube): The GJ-Tube is surgically inserted into the stomach but has an attachment that bypasses the stomach down into the jejunum.
  • Jejunostomy or J-tube: A surgical incision is made in the abdomen wall, however the stomach is bypassed completely and it go directly into the jejunum. 
  • Total Parenteral Nutrition (TPN) is the practice of feeding a person intravenously, normally through a central line. It passes digestive organs completely sending vital nutrients directly into ones blood stream. (Information sited by:http://www.livingwithreflux.org/enteral-feeding-tubes/)

Many patients with feeding tubes have no visible illness. Many conditions that require a tube are due to a malfunctioning organ or the complete failure of ones digestive system. While many of us profess our deep love for these life sustaining apparatuses, it is not an ideal situation. It is extremely challenging adjusting to low, or no, oral consumption. Eating is a basic and essential function to human life. Living without something that is within ones nature takes a heavy toll on the individual. Food is not the enemy of a tubie, it's our failing bodies. 

There are many different options for feeding through a tube
. A patient can be bolus fed, which is where a designated amount of formula or blenderized food is pushed through a syringe a few times a day. Or a patient can be on continuous feeds where they must be hooked up to a small pump which regulated formula into their body. The feeding preference is up to your prescribing doctor, it all depends on reason for insertion of the tube.
Continuos feeds are normally associated with patients who have trouble absorbing nutrients, and who are unable to tolerate large volumes of formula at a time. Continuous can mean: 24/7 feeding, only at night feeding, or feeding for a certain amount of hours during the day. The rate of feeding and time frame are determined by your dietition depending on your caloric needs. Bolus feeds are normally associated with patients who use tubes on a more intermittent basis than their sole nutrient factor and who's bodies can tolerated larger volumes of fluid at one time. Many people with feeding tubes are sustained by doctor prescribed formula. Formula is normally shipped to ones home every month from a local health care facility along with their feeding supplies. This formula contains all the proper nutrients a person would receive from eating orally. However, many formulas are full of corn syrup, sugar, and chemicals. Some patients due to this ingredient choose to go the "blenderized diet" rout which consists of real food puréed in a heavy duty blender.


A few random facts about feeding tubes: 

  1. Much work must be done as upkeep for these small devices to work properly. Feeding tube care is essential to a healthy patient. They must be flushed, cleaned, and cared for multiple times a day. The stoma, which is the medical hole the tube is inserted through, in itself demands proper care as it can easily become infected.
  2. Though feeding through a tube itself is not painful, having a tube can be. The stoma becomes aggravated often as the body is unused to a foreign object protruding through it. Granulated tissue forms around the tube causing intense pain upon movement or use of the abdominal muscles. This GT is difficult to get rid of and is something tubies must deal with for the duration of their tube feeding expectancy.
  3. Tubies can do just about anything a person without a tube can do; they in no way hinder our ability to take part in everyday life.  
  4. Tube feeding is formally known as Enteral Nutrition.