For Patients & Parents

Before tube feeding can begin, the tube has to be inserted into your or your loved one’s stomach, intestines or nose. The feeding tube insertion procedure depends on whether your healthcare professional will be placing a nasogastric tube or nasojejunal tube, or a gastrostomy (PEG) or jejunostomy).

Review the types of feeding tube and their pros and cons.

Gastrostomy or jejunostomy insertion

Gastrostomy and jejunostomy tubes require a procedure or surgery for placement.

  1. Endoscopy: The gastrostomy tube can be inserted using an endoscope. This is called a percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG). An endoscope is a long narrow tube with a camera and light at the end of it. It is passed through the mouth and throat into the stomach. Your surgeon will use the endoscope to place the feeding tube in the stomach and secure it in place.
  2. Surgically: It can also be placed surgically. Your surgeon will make an opening into the stomach or small intestine (Jejunum) and place the feeding tube through the skin into the stomach or jejunum. The stomach/ jejunum is then stitched closed around the tube.

Before the operation

Your doctor will meet with you to discuss the surgery, explain the procedure and ask you to sign a consent form for the procedure/ surgery. If you’re going to have a general anaesthetic during your operation, another doctor, the anaesthetist, may visit to explain about the anaesthetic that will ensure you or your loved one remains asleep. Blood samples may be taken to check that you’re well enough before the operation, and you’ll be told the estimated length of stay and post-operative feeding regime for your unique situation.

After the operation

If you’ve been given a general anaesthetic, once you or your loved one has woken up you’ll be taken back to the ward. You or your loved one may feel a bit groggy and sleepy and may need to have a drip for one or two days after the operation. However, there are other situations where you might be able to leave the hospital within a few hours. Ask your healthcare team to explain how long you or your loved one might have to stay in hospital after the surgery.

The site of the gastrostomy/ jejunostomy tube may look a little red and ooze a bit, but this will settle down a few days after the operation. You can take or give mild pain killers to control any pain. When your healthcare team is satisfied with your progress, feeding will start through your new tube for the first time. This may start on the day the PEG, jejunostomy is inserted or up to three days after insertion. You’ll be discharged home when you’re established on feeds and tolerating them. This usually takes three to five days, but can be longer depending on your condition and confidence with the tube feeding procedure.

Nasogastric tube insertion or nasojejunal tube insertion

Term: Nasogastric tube

Definition: A flexible feeding tube which is inserted through the nostril, down the oesophagus and into the stomach.

Term: Nasojejunal tube

Definition: A flexible feeding tube which is inserted through the nostril, down the oesophagus and into the small intestine (jejunum).

Term: PEG tube

Definition: A flexible feeding tube that is inserted directly into the stomach through a small incision in the abdomen skin.

Term: Jejunostomy

Definition: A flexible feeding tube that is inserted directly into the small intestine (jejunum) through a small incision in the abdomen skin.

Tern: Endoscope

Definition: A slender, tubular optical instrument used as a viewing system for examining an inner part of the body and, with an attached instrument for biopsy or surgery.

Term: General anaesthetic

Definition: Medications used to cause a loss of consciousness so a patient is unaware of surgery. Given by an anaesthetist (a specially trained doctor), it will either be given as a liquid that’s injected into your veins or a gas that you breathe in through a mask.