Gastrostomy: Permanent and Temporary
DefinitionThis is surgery to place a tube through the abdomen and into the stomach. Gastrostomy can be done as:
- Endoscopic procedure: a more common and less invasive procedure called percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG)
- Open procedure: an incision is made in the abdomen
Reasons for ProcedureA gastrostomy tube provides an alternative feeding site. It may be needed to:
- Feed a person who has a hard time sucking or swallowing or is otherwise unable to eat
- Drain the stomach of acid and fluids that have built up
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Possible ComplicationsIf you are planning to have gastrostomy, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:
- Aspiration—accidental sucking into the airways of fluid, food, or any foreign material
- Damage to other organs
- Anesthesia-related problems
- Skin irritation around the tube
- Dislodging or malfunctioning of the tube
- Obesity or diabetes
- Smoking, alcohol abuse , or drug use
- Use of certain prescription medications
- Prior abdominal surgeries
What to Expect
Prior to ProcedureYour doctor will likely do the following:
- Medical history
- Review of medications
- Physical exam
- Assessment of swallowing ability
- Blood and urine tests
- X-rays of the abdomen
- Endoscopic examination of stomach—An endoscope is a long tube with a camera at the end that can be put down the throat into the stomach.
- Talk to your doctor about your medications. You may be asked to stop taking some medications up to 1 week before the procedure.
- Avoid food or fluids after midnight before surgery.
- Arrange for a ride to and from the hospital.
AnesthesiaGeneral anesthesia will be used. It will block any pain and keep you asleep through the surgery.
Description of the ProcedureIf you are unable to undergo PEG, this will be done as an open procedure. In some cases, gastrostomy may be done at the same time as another stomach surgery. An incision will be made through the skin, abdominal wall, and into the stomach. A tube will then be placed through the skin and into the stomach. This tube will be stitched in place. The incision will be closed.
Immediately After ProcedureThe doctor will make sure that the tube is placed correctly. You will be moved to the recovery room and monitored closely.
How Long Will It Take?1 hour or longer
How Much Will It Hurt?You will have pain after the surgery. Ask your doctor about medication to help with the pain.
Average Hospital StayThis procedure is done in a hospital setting. The usual length of stay is several days. Your doctor may choose to keep you longer if complications arise.
- Depending on your condition, you may need to get nutrition through an IV for the first day or two after the tube placement or until your intestine is working normally. You will then be started on clear liquids. You will gradually move to thicker liquids.
- Learn how to administer tube feedings. Also, learn how to flush out your tube. This will decrease the risk of blockages.
- Learn what to do if you have a serious complication such as a dislodged tube or aspiration.
- Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions.
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