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Your Child's Gastrostomy Tube: Checking the Balloon

Your child is going home with a gastrostomy tube (G-tube) in place. The tube is placed through the abdominal wall into your child’s stomach. It has a balloon filled with water on the end inside the stomach. The balloon keeps the tube in place. You must check the balloon regularly. This is to make sure it holds the amount of water prescribed by your child’s health care provider. You were shown how to do this before your child was discharged from the hospital. This sheet can help you remember those steps when you and your child are at home. Arrangements may also be made for a home health nurse to help you.

NOTE: There are many types of G-tubes and syringes. Your child’s tube and supplies may look or work differently from what are described and shown here. Always follow the instructions given by your child’s health care provider or home health nurse. Ask them for phone numbers to call if you need help. Also, make sure you have the phone number for your child’s medical supply company. You’ll need to order more supplies for your child in the future. Write all of these phone numbers below.

Health care provider phone number: ____________________________________

Home health nurse phone number: _____________________________________

Medical supply company phone number: __________________________________

Home Care

Check the balloon every 7 days to make sure it holds the prescribed amount of water.

SuppliesImage showing the connecting of the syringe to the valve and the balloon inside the stomach.

  • 5–10 cc/ml syringe

  • Water

Steps

  • Wash your hands with soap and water.

  • Make sure the feeding port cap of the tube is closed.

  • Next to the feeding port is a valve. Connect the empty syringe to this valve.

  • Slowly pull back the plunger of the syringe with one hand, until all the water is removed from the balloon. Be sure to hold the tube in place with your other hand. The tube is more likely to slip away from the body since the balloon no longer has any water to hold the tube in place.

  • Check the syringe for the amount of water removed from the balloon: 

    • If it matches the prescribed amount:

      • Push the plunger to return the water into the balloon.

      • Disconnect the syringe.

    • If it’s less than the prescribed amount:

      • Note the amount of water that is missing.

      • Push the plunger to return the water into the balloon.

      • Disconnect the syringe.

      • Put the empty syringe in water.

      • Draw the amount of water that is needed.

      • Reconnect the syringe to the valve.

      • Push the plunger to add the water to the balloon.

  • Always replace the water in the balloon if it’s dirty or cloudy. To do this: 

    • Disconnect the syringe and discard the water.

    • Put the empty syringe in water.

    • Draw the prescribed amount of water with the syringe.

    • Reconnect the syringe to the valve.

    • Push the plunger to refill the balloon with water.

 Closeup of abdomen with stomach visible inside. G-tube goes through skin with valve on outside of body and balloon inside stomach. Arrow shows plunger on syringe being pulled away from body to draw water from balloon into syringe.

 

 

 

 Closeup of abdomen with stomach visible inside. G-tube goes through skin with valve on outside of body and balloon inside stomach. Arrow shows plunger on syringe being pushed towards body to return water to balloon. 

Additional instructions: _______________________________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Call the doctor right away if any of the following occurs:

  • You suspect that the balloon is damaged.

  • The tube feels loose, comes out, or the tube site increases in size.

  • Redness, swelling, leakage, sores, or pus develops in the skin around the tube site.

 

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