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Nasogastric feeding tube

A nasogastric tube (NG tube) is a special tube that carries food and medicine to the stomach through the nose. It can be used for all feedings or for giving a person extra calories.

You'll learn to take good care of the tubing and the skin around the nostrils so that the skin doesn't get irritated.

Follow any specific instructions your nurse gives you. Use the information below as a reminder of what to do.

What to Expect at Home

If your child has an NG tube, try to keep your child from touching or pulling on the tube.

After your nurse teaches you how to flush the tube and perform skin care around the nose, set up a daily routine for these tasks.

Flushing the Tube

Flushing the tube helps release any formula stuck to the inside of the tube. Flush the tube after each feeding, or as often as your nurse recommends.

  • First, wash your hands well with soap and water.
  • After the feeding is finished, add warm water to the feeding syringe and let it flow by gravity.
  • If the water does not go through, try changing positions a bit or attach the plunger to the syringe, and gently push the plunger part-way. DO NOT press all the way down or press fast.
  • Remove the syringe.
  • Close the NG tube cap.

Taking Care of the Skin

Follow these general guidelines:

  • Clean the skin around the tube with warm water and a clean washcloth after each feeding. Remove any crust or secretions in the nose.
  • When removing a bandage or dressing from the nose, loosen it first with a bit of mineral oil or other lubricant. Then gently remove the bandage or dressing. Afterward, wash the mineral oil off the nose.
  • If you notice redness or irritation, try putting the tube in the other nostril, if your nurse taught you how to do this.

When to Call the Doctor

Call your health care provider if any of the following occur:

  • There is redness, swelling and irritation in both nostrils
  • The tube keeps getting clogged and you are unable to unclog it with water
  • The tube falls out
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach is bloated

Alternative Names

Feeding - nasogastric tube; NG tube; Bolus feeding; Continuous pump feeding; Gavage tube

References

Smith SF, Duell DJ, Martin BC, Gonzalez L, Aebersold M. Nutritional management and enteral intubation. In: Smith SF, Duell DJ, Martin BC, Gonzalez L, Aebersold M, eds. Clinical Nursing Skills: Basic to Advanced Skills. 9th ed. New York, NY: Pearson; 2016:chap 16.

Ziegler TR. Malnutrition, nutritional assessment, and nutritional support in adult hospitalized patients. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 217.

Patient Instructions

Review Date 12/8/2016

Updated by: Michael M. Phillips, MD, Clinical Professor of Medicine, The George Washington University School of Medicine, Washington, DC. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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