Home Gastrostomy Tube Feeding

This page is designed to help you and your family understand how to give yourself feedings through your gastrostomy [gas-TROS-tuh-mee] tube after you go home. Tube feedings are given when you cannnot eat enough or drink enough to have adequate nutrition for the body. Good nutrition is needed for your body to heal. Fluid is needed to prevent your body from getting dried out (dehydrated).

The gastrostomy tube (GT) is a short feeding tube that goes directly into your stomach through a surgical incision called a stoma [STOH-muh]. (See diagram below.) The GT is soft and bendable.

When you leave the hospital, you should be able to:

  • Give yourself liquid food and water through the feeding tube
  • Give yourself medication through the tube
  • Take care of the tube
  • Trouble-shoot” problems if they arise

This page provides added information for you and your family and should not replace discussions with your doctors, nurses, or dietitian.

Understanding the Equipment

Before giving your feeding, you will need:

  • 60cc syringe
  • Liquid food prescribed by your doctor
  • Measuring cup
  • Clean food container
  • IV pole or wall hook to hang the food container while receiving the feeding
The setup for feedings is shown below: To receive your liquid food, you attach the tube from the end of the food container to the end of your feeding tube. See below:

Giving the Tube Feeding

1. Always wash your hands thoroughly before touching the GT, food, or medication.

2. Check the placement of your GT:

  • Attach a 60cc syringe to the end of your feeding tube.
  • Pull back on the plunger. You should see some gastric juices (yellow-green fluid). This is stomach content and tells you the tube is in your stomach.
  • If you pull back more than ____ of fluid, do not give yourself food. Inject the stomach content, which contains important minerals, back into the tube. Then flush with water. Wait for a few hours and check again. Tell your visiting nurse or your doctor if this occurs frequently.

3. Some patients are told to compare the length of the feeding tube at home to what it was in the hospital. If you were told to do this, write down the length of the tube as measured in the hospital.

Length _______________ Date ______

  • Use a ruler to measure the length from the stoma site to the end of the feeding tube.
  • Call your doctor if you see no stomach content and the length of your tube has changed. This may indicate your tube has been displaced.

4. To give yourself the feeding:

  • Insert the tip of the tube from your food container into your feeding tube (GT).
  • Open the clamp slowly to adjust the speed of the feeding.
  • Your meal should last 45 minutes to an hour. It is important to sit up or prop your head up while receiving your feeding. If you choke or have difficulty breathing during a feeding, stop and call your doctor immediately.
  • When the feeding is done, fill the food container with the amount of water your doctor prescribes. This provides fluids for you and flushes out the tube.
  • After the water is given, roll the clamp down to turn off and disconnect the food container. Insert the GT plug.

5. Wash out the food container after each use:

  • Use dishwashing liquid and water to wash the container.
  • Rinse the container thoroughly.
  • Use a clean food container for each feeding.

Giving Your Medication

Medications can be given through your GT. Use the liquid form of your medication if it is available at your pharmacy. If the liquid form is not available, you must crush your pills.

If the letters “SR” appear after the drug name on the label, this indicates the medication is “sustained-release.” Do not crush these pills. Check with your pharmacist or nurse to be sure that your pills may be crushed and given at the same time.

To give your medication, follow these steps:

  • Check for feeding tube placement (see “Giving the Tube Feeding,” Steps 2 and 3).
  • Flush your feeding tube with 30cc of water before giving your medication.
  • Crush the pills. To crush your pills, place them in a plastic bag, and then use a rolling pin or soup can as a crushing instrument. After you have crushed your pills finely, let the pieces dissolve in warm water (not hot water) so that no pieces will clog your tube.
  • Draw medication up into your syringe by pulling back on the plunger.
  • Attach the syringe to the end of the feeding tube. Then push on the plunger to give your medication.
  • Flush the tube with 30cc of water after giving your medication.
  • Some medications should be given with food; others on an empty stomach. Ask your pharmacist for directions.

Stoma Site Care

While the stoma site heals, clean around the stoma site daily. Follow these steps:

1. Choose any of these products and moisten it with warm, soapy water:

  • Cotton-tip applicator or swab
  • Clean, soft washcloth
  • Gauze squar

2. Cleanse the stoma site using outward circles around the stoma.

3. After cleaning, rinse the area around the stoma with water and any of the products listed above.

4. Allow skin to dry.

  • You may apply antibiotic ointment if your doctor says you may.
  • Observe your stoma site daily for redness, pain, swelling, or unusual drainage around the tube. If you notice any of these signs, call your doctor.

Feeding Tube Care

  • To prevent a clogged feeding tube, flush your tube with water each time after giving a feeding or medication.
  • If your feeding tube becomes clogged, you can use these methods:
      • Place the syringe into your feeding tube, and pull back on the plunger.
      • Flush your tube with warm tap water.
  • If you cannot unclog your tube, call your doctor. It is important not to miss your prescribed liquid food and water.

When to Call the Doctor

  • If you have choking or difficulty breathing during a feeding, stop the feeding and call your doctor immediately.
  • If you cannot unclog your tube, call your doctor immediately.
  • If you cannot confirm that the tube is in your stomach, call your doctor.
  • Call your doctor if the following persist: diarrhea, constipation, nausea, or dehydration.
  • Call your doctor if you have redness, pain, swelling, or unusual drainage at the stoma site.

Personalized Meal Schedule

Name of liquid food: __________________________________________

Total amount of liquid food daily: ___________________________________________

Total amount of water daily:  ______________________________________________

Meal schedule: ______________________________________________

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