Gastrostomy feeding tube insertion is done in part using a procedure called endoscopy. This is a way of looking inside the body using a flexible tube with a small camera on the end of it. The endoscope is inserted through the mouth and down the esophagus, which leads to the stomach.
After the endoscopy tube is inserted, the skin over the left side of belly (abdomen) area is cleaned and numbed. The doctor makes a small surgical cut in this area and inserts a small, flexible, hollow tube into the stomach. The tube has a balloon or special tip The doctor uses stitches to close the stomach around the tube.
Why the Procedure Is Performed
Gastrostomy feeding tubes are put in for different reasons. They may be needed for a short period of time or permanently. This procedure may be recommended for:
Babies with birth defects of the mouth, esophagus, or stomach (for example, esophageal atresia or tracheal esophageal fistula)
Persons who cannot swallow correctly
Persons who cannot take enough food by mouth to stay healthy
Persons who often breathe in food when eating
Risks for surgical or endoscopic feeding tube insertion are:
Before the Procedure
You will be given a sedative and a painkiller. In most cases, these medicines are given through a vein (IV line) in your arm. You should feel no pain and not remember the procedure.
A numbing medicine may be sprayed into your mouth to prevent the urge to cough or gag when the endoscope is inserted. A mouth guard will be inserted to protect your teeth and the endoscope.
Dentures must be removed.
After the Procedure
This is most often a simple surgery with a good outlook.
The stomach and abdomen will heal in 5 to 7 days. Moderate pain can be treated with medicine. Feedings will start slowly with clear liquids, and increase slowly.
The patient and family will be taught:
How to care for the skin around the tube
Signs and symptoms of infection
What to do if the tube is pulled out
Signs and symptoms of tube blockage
How to empty the stomach through the tube
How and what to feed through the tube
How to hide the tube under clothing
What normal activities can be continued
All-Mousawi A, Rodrigues NA, Herndon H. Metabolism in surgical patients. In: Townsend CM Jr, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 19th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2012:chap 6.
Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.