Nasogastric (NG) tube feeding

An NG tube is a thin, bendy plastic tube (like a piece of spaghetti with a hole in the middle) which goes through your nose all the way down to your stomach.

Special feed can then be given to you through this tube. Young people at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) sometimes need NG tubes if they find eating difficult or if they can't eat enough to keep themselves healthy.

Insertion

A doctor or nurse will put in your NG tube. He or she will put some lubricant on the end of it so it is slippery and then it will be pushed up through to the back of your nose and then down into your stomach. You should try and sit as straight as possible as this will help it to go down quicker and easier. It may also help to drink a glass of water or pretend you are swallowing while the tube is going down.

Eating

You might be able to still eat some foods. Your dietitian will be able to assess what you can eat. You may also want to ask your doctor or speech and language therapist for advice about this. The usual feed will be liquid that will go down the tube using a special pump.

Every time your NG tube is used it is necessary to check that the tube is in the right place. The clinical team will show you how this can be done (or will do this for you if necessary).

Taking medication

Most medicines are available in a liquid form and these can be syringed straight into your tube. If you can't swallow pills with your tube in and the medication is not available as a liquid, the pills can be crushed and added to water. This can then be syringed down the NG tube.

Does it hurt?

No, you will get used to it in the same way as you would get used to wearing a wig, but it will feel uncomfortable having it put in.

Looking ahead

Talk to your doctor about how long you will have the NG tube for. Some tubes are made for short-term use and will need to be taken out (or changed) every seven days. A silk NG tube is made from very soft plastic and can be used for up to six weeks before it needs to be taken out or changed.

Compiled by:
Great Ormond Street Hospital
Last review date:
February 2012
Ref:
n/a