Feeding Tube Insertion

About Feeding Tube Insertion

As we know, not all children develop at the same rate. When this is due to chronic difficulties with feeding that impact your child’s nutrition and growth, this can have a negative impact on the entire family. In some instances this may be due to a physiological disorder of chewing and swallowing where gagging and vomiting occur during eating. In children with developmental disabilities, up to 85% can be affected by problem feeding. When poor feeding results in further developmental problems, dehydration, or poor weight gain, sometimes a feeding tube is recommended until such time as the child can get enough nutrition through their normal diet.

Examination and Diagnosis

Candidates for feeding tube insertions can include non-thriving infants, children with structural abnormalities of the nose, mouth or jaw, such as cleft palate, those who are recovering from a significant illness, or with neurodevelopmental or behavioural problems.

What’s involved?

A nasogastric tube (NGT) is a thin, soft tube that is inserted into your child’s nostril, down the back of their throat, through the oesophagus, and into their stomach. The insertion is a short, relatively painless procedure but can be uncomfortable. Once in place, specially prepared liquid foods and fluids can be passed down the tube to “feed” your child. The tube can also be used to give medications to an infant. Insertion of the NGT usually requires a hospital stay for a few days to ensure your child is tolerating feeds through the tube and that you are confident in caring for it.

What to expect afterwards

Dr McIntyre will instruct you on how to care for the tube, to insure it remains in the correct position, and how to use it to feed your child. In most cases, nasogastric tubes are only needed for a short-term (weeks to months), until your child is more confident with feeding. If a tube is required for a longer period, Dr McIntyre may suggest the surgical insertion of a small tube called a gastrostomy into the abdomen which passes directly into the stomach and is easier to care for.

Promoting good health in our children

“Working closely with children and their families, it's immensely satisfying to be able to make a difference to their lives by managing their medical conditions with care and compassion.”

Dr Emma McIntyre