A jejunostomy tube (J-tube) is a soft, plastic tube placed through the skin of the abdomen into the midsection of the small intestine. The tube delivers food and medicine until the person is healthy enough to eat by mouth.
It is important to take good care of the skin around the tube to avoid getting an infection or skin irritation.
You will also learn how to change the dressing around the tube every day.
Make sure you keep the tube protected by taping it to the skin.
Your nurse may replace the tube every now and then.
Follow the specific instructions your nurse gave you on how to care for the J-tube. Use the information below as a reminder of what to do.
Cleaning the Skin Around the J-tube
To clean the skin, you will need to change the bandages once a day or more if the area becomes wet or dirty.
The skin area should always be kept clean and dry. You will need:
Warm soapy water and a washcloth
Dry, clean towel
Ointment or hydrogen peroxide (if your doctor recommends)
Follow these guidelines every day for good health and skin care:
Wash your hands well for a few minutes with soap and water.
Remove any dressings or bandages on the skin. Place them in the plastic bag, and throw them away.
Check the skin for redness, odor, pain, puss, or swelling. Make sure the stitches are still in place.
Use the clean towel or Q-tip to clean the skin around the J-tube 1 to 3 times a day with mild soap and water. Try to remove any drainage or crusting on the skin and tube. Be gentle. Dry the skin well with a clean towel.
If there is drainage, place a small piece of gauze under the disc around the tube.
DO NOT rotate the tube. This may cause it to become blocked.
Replacing the Dressings Around the Tube
You will need:
Gauze pads, dressings, or bandages
Your nurse will show you how to place the new bandages or gauze around the tube and tape it securely to the abdomen.
Usually, split gauze strips are slipped over the tube and taped down on all four sides. Tape the tube down as well.
DO NOT use creams, powders, or sprays near the site unless the nurse says it is ok.
Flushing the J-tube
To flush the J-tube, follow the instructions your nurse gave you. You will use the syringe to slowly push warm water into the side opening of the J-port.
You may rinse, dry, and reuse the syringe later.
When to Call the Doctor
Call your child's health care provider if:
The tube is pulled out
There is redness, swelling, smell, pus (unusual color) at the tube site
There is bleeding around the tube
The stitches are coming out
There is leaking around the tube
Skin or scarring is growing around the tube
Your child is vomiting
Your child's stomach is bloated
Kowalski MT, Rosdahl CB. Diet therapy and special diets. In: Kowalski MT, Rosdahl CB. Textbook of Basic Nursing. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins; 2011:chap 32.
Jenifer K. Lehrer, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Frankford-Torresdale Hospital, Aria Health System, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.