Food usually enters the digestive system through the mouth, where it is swallowed and passes down the esophagus (the gullet) into the stomach.
Sometimes, patients may have difficulty with swallowing and may need help with getting their food into the digestive tract, for example after a stroke or other medical conditions. 2 main methods of doing this include Naso-Jejunal (NJ) Tube Feeding and Percutaneous Enteral Gastrostomy (PEG) Feeding.
NJ Tube Feeding
This involves inserting a thin feeding tube thru the nose, down the esophagus and stomach and into the small intestines. This is done to bypass the throat in patients with swallowing disorders and/or gastric disorders.
The insertion of the tube is commonly done by endoscopy, where a gastroscope is inserted deep into the small intestines, and the feeding tube is threaded through under X-ray guidance and its position confirmed before the endoscope is withdrawn.
The tube last about 6 to 8 weeks. The tube is quite thin and it is prone to get blocked. Once block the tube need to be re-inserted endoscopically.
PEG Tube Feeding
Having a tube going through the nostrils can be uncomfortable in the long-term, so patents may want to opt for another solution known as PEG feeding. A PEG is a tube which allows food to be passed directly into the stomach. This tube is in the cavity of the stomach and has a little spout that allows for liquids and even blended foods to be poured through. The insertion is done by endoscopy, avoiding the need for an open surgical procedure.
The PEG needs to be replaced in about 6-9 months. The replacement can take place easily in the clinic, without having to go through another endoscopic procedure.
Some PEG tubes are designed such that they are flush with the skin, making them easy to care for.
- Advanced Endoscopy