Nasogastric (NG) Tube

Before the Procedure

Before the NG tube is placed, your care team will explain what is going to happen, why, and what to expect. You’ll need to give verbal consent to have the tube placed.

It’s always good to have a loved one around during the tube placement for moral support. If you are a caregiver of the adult getting the tube, and you know your loved one can sometimes be a little uncooperative, you might be called on to help hold them during the placement.

During the Procedure

If you will need to use your tube at home, then you’ll likely be taught how to place your own NG tube in front of a mirror. Make sure you do this on an empty stomach.

While the tube’s being placed, sip from a straw in a glass of water to help pass the tube down. Tubes featuring a stylet will be lubricated on the inside. The tip of the tube entering your nose will be dipped in water or lubricating jelly to make it slick. Lubricating jelly can cause a burning sensation in nasal passages.

The tube will be measured by the nurse before insertion. You’ll be asked to tilt your head slightly forward and slowly advance the tube up to the centimeter mark that was measured. At this point, if a stylet was used, it will be removed and the placement will be verified. Then you’ll secure the tube so it doesn’t move with tape or another type of securing device.

After the Procedure

It’s normal to have some gagging and discomfort at first as you get more used to having a tube down your throat. You will adjust. Using positive thinking and words of encouragement can be very helpful during this stage. Remind yourself often that many people have done this successfully and you can too. Tell yourself: “I can do this! I am going to do this!”

The staff will teach you how to fill your feeding bags and run the pump. If a pump isn’t used, you’ll be taught how to give feedings without one, using a syringe or feeding bag.

Frequent toothbrushing and good oral hygiene are very important, so make this a priority. You’ll also want to ask if it’s OK to sip water and eat food orally if possible.

Before you leave, make sure you have all the take-home supplies you need or know the plan on where to get them. This includes good quality tape to secure the tube, syringes, and an extra NG tube. You can reuse the same tube more than once, as long as you wash it with soapy water, rinse it, and let it air dry.

Your First Day at Home

The first thing you’ll want to do when you get home is find a place to store your supplies. You might find it handy to hang your stylet (if you use one) so doesn’t get kinked. You’ll also want to have a clean space for preparing the formula.

Next, you’ll be placing the tube by yourself for the first time. It’s normal to feel a little nervous; just remember that the nurses taught you everything you need to know. Take deep breaths to calm yourself and make sure your stomach is empty for the first placement.

Lubricate the inside of the tube with water, and have it and the stylet ready and in place. Review how many centimeters you’ll need to insert the tube. Change nostrils with each tube replacement. After you’ve inserted the tube, confirm the placement before using it. If it feels a little wrong or funny, don’t worry. Just remove the tube and reinsert it.

Have the feeding bag with formula set up on the pump so you can immediately feed after confirming placement. If you don’t use a pump, have the feeding set or syringe ready for use and on hand.
Your tube can stay in place for weeks, but if you’re using a continuous feed, you may need to change it if it becomes clogged.

Remember: the first day at home after any big change is going to require some adjustment. But before long, you’ll become more used to what to do and how to do it and you’ll develop a new routine that’s second nature to you.

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