What is a nasogastric tube?
A nasogastric tube can be used for feedings when your child is unable to eat or drink by mouth. It is called a nasogastric tube because it passes through your child's nose, down the throat and into the stomach. You may hear it called an NG tube.
Checking for tube placement
Once it is in place, you must check to make sure the tube is in the stomach at least one (1) time each day. A good time to do this is when you have stopped the pump to change the feeding bag or to give medicines using the NG tube.
These steps will help you check the correct placement of the tube.
- Wash your hands well with soap and water. See “Do you know… Clean hands” for guidelines.
- Look at the centimeter marking at the base of your child’s nostril. Make sure that the marking is in the same place before giving medicines or feedings_____________ (centimeter marking).
- Another way for you to check for tube placement is to pull back on the plunger of the syringe. If stomach contents come back into the NG tube, the placement is correct.
- Watch for signs that your child might be choking and unable to digest the medicines or formula at the rate it is running:
- Throat clearing,
- Unable to speak,
- Trouble breathing,
- Soft or high-pitched sounds while inhaling,
- Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach swelling, or
- Acting more irritable.
If any of these symptoms occur, stop the feeding and call your child’s doctor right away.
If you are not sure that the tube is in the stomach, do not put the formula or any other liquid in the tube. Call or come to the hospital, so the tube can be checked.
Things to remember
- If the feeding will happen in bed, be sure you put your child’s head and shoulders up on pillows.
- You must flush the NG tube at least one (1) time each day with tap water to prevent the tube from becoming clogged. Usually, this is done at the end of a cycled feeding or after giving medicine through the tube. If your child is receiving continuous feedings or is not receiving anything through the NG tube, you should flush the tube one (1) time a day. Chose a time that is easiest for you.
- If you are returning home and have well water, flush the NG tube with sterile water.
- A St. Jude nurse will change the NG tube every 30 days and as needed.
Changing the pump tubing, extension set, and feeding container
Start with a new bag or bottle and tubing at the beginning of each feeding cycle. If the cycle is longer than 12 hours, the container and tubing can be changed anytime during the cycle. The tube and container should not be used for more than 12 hours.
Change the pump tubing and feeding container every 4 hours when using powder formula or breast milk.
The extension set should be changed every 24 hours.
Giving medicine through the NG tube
- Use the liquid form of each medicine whenever possible.
- Check with your pharmacist about whether your child’s medicine is offered in liquid form or if pills can be crushed.
- If you crush a tablet, make sure you crush it into very fine pieces. Mix it well with a small amount of warm water to make a thin liquid.
- The crushed medicine and water mixture can be pushed into the NG tube using a syringe.
- Always rinse the NG tube with _____ml of water at the beginning and end of giving medicines, and before and after feeding bag changes.
- Give each medicine separately. Do not mix medicines together. Rinse the tube with ____ml of water after each medicine.
- Do not add any medicines to the formula in the feeding container.
- Do not crush coated or time-released tablets or capsules.
- Dilute thick medicines like Septra with water (use sterile water if you have well water at home).
- If the tube seems clogged—nothing can be pushed in or it is very hard to push in—please call or come to the hospital as soon as possible.
- If your child cries during the feeding, stop the feeding until your child is quiet and comforted.
- Do not change the type or amount of formula without talking to your child’s doctor first.
If you have questions about the nasogastric tube (NG tube) or tube feeding, talk to your child’s doctor, nurse, or dietitian. Dial 901-595-3300 for the doctor or nurse. If you are outside the Memphis area, call toll-free 1-866-2ST-JUDE (1-866-278-5833). You can reach the dietitian by calling the Clinical Nutrition office at 901-595-3318.
This document is not intended to take the place of the care and attention of your personal physician or other professional medical services. Our aim is to promote active participation in your care and treatment by providing information and education. Questions about individual health concerns or specific treatment options should be discussed with your physician.
St. Jude complies with health care-related federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex.
ATTENTION: If you speak another language, assistance services, free of charge, are available to you. Call 1-866-278-5833 (TTY: 1-901-595-1040).
ATENCIÓN: si habla español, tiene a su disposición servicios gratuitos de asistencia lingüística. Llame al 1-866-278-5833 (TTY: 1-901-595-1040).
تنبيه: إذا كنت تتحدث باللغة العربية فيمكنك الاستعانة بخدمات المساعدة اللغوية المتوفرة لك مجانا. .يرجى الاتصال بالرقم. 5833-278-866-1 (الهاتف النصي: 1040-595-901-1).