What to Expect if Your Child Needs a G-Tube
What Happens Before the G-Tube is Placed?
We may request some tests before a child can get a G-tube. The most common test is an x-ray of the upper gastrointestinal (gass-tro-in-TESS-tin-uhl) system, called a UGI (or Upper GI). This test lets us see the upper part of the digestive system. Your child also may need to see other medical specialists such as a gastroenterologist, dietician, speech pathologist, or social worker. The information we get from these visits helps us develop a care plan specifically for your child. These visits also ensure that everything will be ready for you and your child when you go home
What Happens During the G-Tube Placement?
There are several ways we use to place a G-tube. The surgeon can place the tube in the operating room. Or, an interventional radiologist can place the tube through small incisions. Sometimes we use a combination of methods.
- Laparoscopic technique. The surgeon makes two small incisions in the belly. One is for inserting the G-tube. The other is where the surgeon inserts a tiny camera called a laparoscope. The laparoscope helps the surgeon see the stomach and guide the G-tube into the correct place.
- Open surgery. The surgeon makes one larger incision. Your surgeon may chose this procedure when other methods are not a good choice. This may happen when there is scar tissue from past surgery or if your child needs more surgery at the same time the G-tube is placed.
- Percutaneous (through the skin) endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG). The doctor inserts an endoscope (a thin, flexible tube with a tiny camera and light at the tip) through the mouth and into the stomach to guide the G-tube into place.
- Radiologically guided placement. The interventional radiologist uses ultrasound and x-ray images to help place the G-tube.
How Long Will My Child Stay in the Hospital?
Most children will stay in the hospital for 1-3 days after a G-tube placement. How long your child stays depends on your child’s medical condition. It also depends on how much you’ll need to learn to care for your child’s newly placed G-tube.
We encourage you to stay with your child during their hospitalization.
Before leaving the hospital, we’ll make sure:
- You know how to care for the G-tube and feed your child.
- The G-tube is working properly.
- Your child is comfortable.
What Should I Expect at Home?
You will quickly get used to feeding your child through the tube, or button. Your child’s feeding plan will be established when your child is in the hospital. These feedings will help your child grow strong and healthy.
We’ll tell you the right mix of formula or blended feedings to use, and how often to feed your child. DO NOT add more formula or solid foods before talking to us.
Feeding bags should be changed every 24 hours. All of the equipment can be cleaned with hot, soapy water and hung to dry.
Remember to wash your hands regularly to prevent the spread of germs. Take good care of yourself as well, so that you can stay calm and positive, and cope with stress.
Where Can I get More Information?
Please review the many resources available on this web site for specific written instructions. Take time to watch the videos on how to care for your child’s G-tube.