Types of Tubes

Different types of tubes are appropriate for different children. Once the decision to have your child tube fed is made, you now need to learn about the different types of tubes and decide which type is most appropriate. Your child's physician can let you know which is best. Below is a short description of the most common tubes along with the advantages and disadvantages.

Nasogastric Tube (NG-tube)

Procedure:

A naso-gastric tube (NGT) is threaded through a nostril, down the throat and into the stomach. This type of feeding is usually temporary and does not require surgery to be placed.

Advantages:

  • The ability to provide additional food and calories.
  • Less time spent giving feedings.

Disadvantages:

  • The process of NG tube insertion can be uncomfortable. Then, as the tube passes down past the esophagus it often causes a gag reflex that can result in vomiting. Once the tube is in tape needs to be used on the face to keep the tube in place. When the tube needs to be changed, the tape needs to be removed, which can be painful.
  • If formula is introduced into the stomach too rapidly, diarrhea, regurgitation, aspiration, or vomiting can result. If the NG tube becomes dislodged, gastric contents can wind up in the lungs, leading to aspiration pneumonia.

The placement of an NG tube is a good option if this is going to be a very temporary, short term solution.   If your child is going to need feeds for more than 3 months, a long term solution should be implemented.

Gastrostomy Tube (G-tube)

Procedure:

A surgeon makes an opening through the skin, abdominal wall and stomach wall, then puts into the opening a tube, or a small porthole-like device that has an opening at skin level (gastrostomy button or GB).

Advantages:

  • The ability to provide additional food and calories.
  • Less time spent giving feedings.
  • Feedings can be done at night when child is asleep.
  • Does not interfere with daily activities.
  • Less chance of child spitting up.
  • Less chance of tube coming out.
  • Tube is easy to replace.

Disadvantages:

  • Gastrostomy site can become infected, leak, become irritated or malfunction.

Of all the types of tubes, the G-tube is the most common. If your child is going to need nutrition support for greater than 3 months and does not vomit often, chances are a G-tube is your best bet.

Jejunostomy Tube (J-tube)

Procedure:

A jejunostomy tube (J-tube) is a type of tube placed directly into the small intestine. It functions similarly to tubes leading into the stomach, but with several differences.

Advantages:

  • It reduces the risk that formula will back up into the esophagus into the trachea and lungs. If your child frequently vomits or has very bad reflux, a J-tube may be the preferred tube.

Disadvantages:

  • Increased risk of diarrhea, and increased probability of the tube getting clogged.

If you are still confused about the type of tube that is best for your child, or are having difficulty understanding your doctor's recommendation, make an appointment with us.We will explain in further detail the pros and cons of each tube and help you form an opinion on what you feel is best for your child so you can then go back to your doctor with a better understanding of the procedures and what is entailed.