Gastrostomy Feeding Tube Insertion

A gastrostomy feeding tube insertion is the placement of a feeding tube through the skin and the stomach wall, directly into the stomach.
Gastrostomy feeding tube insertion is often done through the mouth, by a procedure called endoscopy. Local numbing medicines and intravenous sleep medicines are used. This procedure can also be done surgically. While the patient is in deep sleep and pain-free (general anesthesia), a small cut is made on the left side of the stomach area. A small, flexible, hollow tube with a balloon or special tip is inserted into the stomach. The stomach is stitched closed around the tube and the cut is closed.
Gastrostomy feeding tubes are put in for different reasons. They may be needed temporarily or permanently. Gastrostomy feeding tube insertion may be recommended for:
  • Babies with birth abnormalities of the mouth, esophagus, or stomach (for example, esophageal atresia or tracheal esophageal fistula)
  • Patients who cannot swallow correctly
  • Patients who cannot take enough food by mouth to stay healthy
  • Patients who often breath in food when eating

Expectations after surgery:
This is a mostly simple surgery with a good outlook.
The stomach and abdomen will heal in 5 to 7 days. Moderate pain can be treated with medications. Feedings will start slowly with clear liquids, and increase slowly.
The patient/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