Nasogastric Tube Feedings

A nasogastric (NG) tube is a special tube that carries food and medicine to the stomach through the nose. It can be used for all feedings or for giving your patient/client extra calories. It’s important to take good care of the feeding bag and tubing so that they work properly, as well as the skin around the nostrils so that it does not get irritated.NG tube feedings incorporate a procedure where a thin, plastic tube is inserted through the nostril, down the esophagus, and into the stomach. Once the NG tube is in place, healthcare providers can deliver food and medicine directly to the stomach or remove substances from it.

NG tube feeding has four distinct advantages:

·         Short-term (<4 weeks)

·         Most commonly used

·         Easiest to place (with a prior patient assessment)

·         Least expensive to administer

Nasogastric tubes are used mainly for short-term support in patients who do not have problems like vomiting, GERD, poor gastric emptying, ileus or intestinal obstruction. Nasogastric tubes can be used for longer term support where other enteral access is not possible or could potentially carry a risk. NG tubes are potentially dangerous in patients who cannot swallow correctly and those who need to be nursed. A patient assessment should always be carried out prior to placement of an NG tube. NG tubes are placed by appropriately trained staff like nurses or doctors.

There is a small risk that NG tubes can be misplaced on insertion or move out of position at a later stage. Position of NG tubes should be verified on initial placement and before each use. It is recommended that a pH <5.5 is consistent with gastric placement. If aspirate cannot be obtained or the pH is >5.5 feeding should not begin. The NG tube should be left in place, the patient’s position changed and the aspirate re-tested in 1 hour. The feed itself can increase the pH in the stomach, so aspiration should take place at least 1 hour after the feed has been stopped.

NG tube