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Glossary of Medical Terms



The tummy area from the lower ribs to the pelvis or the belly

Breathing or inhaling food into the lungs (airway)


Bolus Feeding
Intermittent or bolus tube feedings are given over short periods of time several times throughout the day, often at regular meal times.

Button (gastrostomy button)
A tube that is level with the skin. It requires a "low profile" or "skin-level" gastrostomy tube extension to give feedings or medicines.


A cover that is attached to the medicine and formula port of the feeding tube. When inserted into the port, it keeps the stomach contents, formula, or medicines from leaking out. It is sometimes called a plug.

Catheter (CATH-it-urr)
A hollow, flexible tube for insertion into a body cavity, duct, or vessel to allow the passage of fluids

A device that is attached to the feeding tube. We use it to pinch the feeding tube closed, to keep stomach contents, formula, or medicines from leaking out.

Combination feeding tube
The use of several types of feeding methods, such as bolus during the day and continuous overnight.

Continuous tube feeding
Using a feeding pump to give food (usually formula) at a constant rate for a specified amount of time. Continuous tube feedings are given at a steady rate for as many hours as needed.


Dietitians are experts in the use of food and nutrition to promote health and manage disease. Dietitians are specially trained to determine a person’s nutritional needs and a feeding plan.

Dysmotility (diss-mo-TILL-uh-tee)
Dysmotility is a term used to describe a health problem where the muscles of the digestive system do not work as they should. The actions of the muscles and nerves in the gastrointestinal tract that mix and move food along is the known as motility. When something goes wrong with this action, we call it dysmotility. Dysmotility is the movement of food and liquids through the GI tract (stomach and intestines) that is either too slow or too fast.

Dysphagia (dis-FAY-jah)
Having a hard time swallowing or not being able to swallow


Endoscopy (en-DASS-kah-pee)
Looking inside the body using a flexible viewing tube (endoscope). Endoscopy can also be used to treat many disorders because doctors are able to pass special small tools through the tube.

Enteral (en-TARE-uhl)
A feeding given into the stomach or intestines by a feeding tube

Esophagus (eh-SAH-fah-gus)
A muscular tube that connects the mouth to the stomach

Extension set
Tubing that is attached to a low-profile (skin level) button to give feedings or vent the stomach 

External bolster (bumper)
A device that rests against the skin, keeping the feeding tube in the correct position. It prevents the feeding tube from slipping into the stomach or intestines.


Feeding bag
Bags that are designed to be used with feeding systems. Some feeding bags do not require a feeding pump to be used, and these are gravity feeding bags. 

Feeding pump
A machine that controls the amount of food (usually formula) given over time. Pumps can be battery operated and small enough to carry, to allow for travel during feedings.

Feeding tube
A tube placed into the stomach or small intestines to give formula or medicines

An amount of water that is given to clear the tube of either formula or medicine. The amount depends on your child’s needs and weight.

A soft, bendable tube that can be used for feedings into the stomach


Having to do with the stomach

Gastroenterologist (gass-tro-en-ter-AHL-ah-jist)
A gastroenterologist is a doctor with special training who cares for people with digestive and feeding problems.

Gastrointestinal (gass-tro-in-TESS-tin-uhl)
Having to do with the group of organs that digests your food and gets rid of your waste. It includes organs such as your esophagus, stomach, small intestine, colon, and rectum.

Gastrojejunal (gas-tro-jeh-JEW-nuhl) Feeding tube (GJ tube)
A type of feeding tube that goes into both the stomach and small intestine

Gastrostomy (gas-TRAH-stuh-mee)
A gastrostomy is surgery that makes a small opening through the skin into the stomach. The opening is called a stoma. Your child might need a gastrostomy if they have trouble eating or drinking by mouth.

Gastrostomy tube (G tube)
A feeding tube that goes through the skin of the belly into the stomach for feedings or venting the stomach

Gauze (gawzz)
A thin, loosely woven cloth used for protecting a wound or cleaning an area. Gauze protects the skin from feeding tube drainage. 

Granulation tissue
Granulation tissue is extra growth of healing skin. Most often it is seen where the tube comes out of the skin. It is pink or red, moist tissue that may cause a yellow-green drainage or small amount of bleeding on the dressing. This is a normal response of the body. It does not mean there is an infection. It is not painful to your child. 

Gravity drip feedings
A method of feeding. Often used for bolus feeding. The formula is placed into a feeding bag. The bag is then connected to the G-tube. You control the flow of the feeding with a roller clamp so that it goes slowly into the stomach.


Incision (in-SIH-zhun)
A surgical cut made into the skin

Interventional radiologist (in-ter-VEN-shun-uhl ray-dee-AHL-uh-jist)
Interventional radiology (IR) is a specialized field within radiology. In interventional radiology, doctors not only interpret your medical images, but they also perform surgical procedures through small incisions in the body. Interventional radiologists use diagnostic imaging tools (for example, CT, ultrasound, or x-ray) to guide their surgical procedures. 


Jejunostomy (jeh-ju-NAH-stuh-mee) tube (J tube)
A feeding tube that goes into the small intestine

Jejunum (jeh-JU-nuhm)
The jejunum is the middle section of the small intestine. Most of the nutrients present in food are absorbed by the jejunum. 


Laparoscopic (lap-uh-ruh-SKAH-pik) surgery
Surgery done using a laparoscope (LAPuh-ruh-scope). This is a long, rigid, thin tube put into the body through a very small cut. The laparoscope lets the surgeon see organs inside the body. The doctor completes the surgery using special tools inserted in other very small cuts. 

Long gastrostomy tube
A long tube that is placed through the skin of the belly into the stomach. The tube is held in place by stiches, an internal disk, or water-filled balloon.

Low profile or skin-level gastrostomy tube (sometimes called the "button")
A tube that fits flat against the skin. When you have a “button,” you need an extension tube to give feedings or medicines.


Malecot (MAH-lah-kut) Catheter
Bendable catheter that can be used for a feeding tube. Malecot Catheter is also known as mushroom catheter for its mushroom or flower like tip that holds the catheter in place. It does not use a balloon.


If your child is going to have anesthesia or a sedative to help them sleep through surgery, you need to understand NPO. It’s short for the Latin words nil per os, which mean “nothing by mouth.”  We will tell you more about the surgery NPO guidelines and give you ideas to help your child cope with no food.   

Small particles in food that we need to make energy, grow, and develop. They include protein, sugar, fat, vitamins, minerals, and water.


Percutaneous (purr-kew-TAY-nee-uss)
Through the skin

Percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG)
A procedure to place a gastrostomy tube using an endoscope. The doctor places the endoscope in the mouth and into the stomach. Then the doctor guides the G- tube into the stomach through a very small incision in the belly.


Radiologist (ray-dee-AHL-uh-jist)
A doctor who specializes in x-rays and special procedures that use x-rays.

Residual (ree-ZID-oo-uhl)
The remainder. When we use this word in talking about G-tube feedings, we mean what still remains in the stomach from the previous tube feeding.


Small intestine
The part of the digestive tract between the stomach and the large intestine. Its job is to process absorb most of the nutrients from what we eat and drink.

Social worker
A trained professional who helps people solve and cope with problems in their everyday lives.

Speech pathologist
Speech pathologists are specially trained professionals who work to prevent, evaluate, and treat speech, language, and swallowing disorders in children and adults. 

To secure or hold steady. When we’re using this word in talking about G-tubes, we’re often talking about attaching the tube to the body in a way that will prevent it from moving around or getting pulled out.

An opening in your skin made by a surgeon. An opening that connects the feeding tube on the outside of the body to the stomach or intestine on the inside.

The stomach is a muscular hollow organ. It takes in food from the esophagus (gullet or food pipe), mixes it, breaks it down, and then passes it on to the small intestine in small portions.

The surgeon is the doctor who leads the surgical team and does the operation. Surgeons have to complete 4 years of medical school, plus at least 5 years of special training (residency). They also have to pass a national surgical board exam.  

A hollow plastic tube with a plunger used to inject fluid or medicine into, or withdraw fluid from, the body. A syringe consists of a hollow cylinder that is fitted with a sliding plunger. The downward movement of the plunger injects fluid; upward movement withdraws fluid. 


The tunnel opening from the skin into the stomach or small intestine


Units of measure

  • Milliliter (mL) = cubic centimeter (cc)
  • 1 mL = 1 cc
  • 30 mL or 30 cc = 1 ounce (oz.)
  • 240 mL or 240 cc = 8 ounces =  1 standard measuring cup


A procedure to let extra air or formula out of the stomach