Frequently Asked Questions on Enteral Feeding Tubes


How to cope with a blocked enteral tube?

A blocked tube can easily prevented with precautions. Make sure to flush the tube before and after each feed or medication. Use either sterile or cooled boiled water with a 20ml (minimum) syringe to minimize pressure and volume. The dietitian will advise you on how much water you need for adequate flushing. Do not use acidic solutions like fruit juices or cola, as this could curdle the feed and block the tube further. Gently squeeze the tube between your fingers along the length of the tube and repeat flushing if the blockage does not cleared. It can take up to 30 minutes to unblock the tube.

What is the cause of blockage in an enteral feeding tube?

A tube can get blocked because of:

  • Medication that wasn't ground finely
  • Inadequate flushing before and after feeds and administering medication
  • Closed tube clamp
What are the signs that indicate a problem in the Stoma Site?
In order to avoid any complications, one must check for these issues with the stoma site everyday:
  • Redness around the stoma site: If you see redness which persists or painful, inform your healthcare provider.
  • Oozing from the stoma site: If you notice oozing from your gastrostomy or jejunostomy site after it's been dry, do not apply an antibiotic to the site unless advised to do so. Continue cleaning and drying the site thoroughly. Inform your doctor.
  • Overgrowth of skin around stoma: The skin may overgrow around the stoma site and require treatment. This is known as granulation tissue and is a result of the body trying to repair the surgical incision. If this occurs, contact your doctor.
  • Leakage of stomach contents from around the gastrostomy storna site: Leakage of gastric contents around the stoma site can cause burning and pain to the surrounding skin. Please contact your healthcare provider if so occurs.
Is a change in color of enteral feeding tube normal?

If you take good care of your tube, the color should not change. However, if the tube has been in place for a long period of time some discoloration may occur due to the feed and medications.

What is over-granulation? What can be done about it?

Over-granulation means the overgrowth of skin around the stoma site where the feeding tube is inserted. This might happen since your body is trying to repair the surgical incision. Over-granulation is common and treatable. If you notice it developing around the stoma site please inform your healthcare provider.

What to do in case the tube is disconnected or falls out?

It is possible sometimes that your feeding tube might become loose or dislodged with coughing, sudden movements or accidental or excessive pulling of the tube. If so happens stop feeding straight away. If you have an NG tube and you've been shown how to replace it, please do so. Otherwise, you'll have to go to hospital and have your NG or NJ tube replaced by a healthcare professional beforehand to avoid waiting in Accident & Emergency.

If you have a gastrostomy (PEG or RIG button) or jejunostomy and it is accidentally removed, please put a dressing over the site and go as quickly as possible to the hospital Accident & Emergency Department or get in touch with your emergency contact, as the stoma will begin to close up.