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Understanding PEG Tube Feeding

Outline of human figure from the side showing digestive system including esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, rectum, and anus. Closeup of cross section of skin with G-tube inserted through skin into stomach. G stands for gastrostomy (an opening in the stomach). May also be called PEG tube. Closeup of cross section of skin with J-tube inserted through skin into jejunum. J stands for jejunum (section of small intestine). May also be called PEJ tube. In certain situations tube may be placed in stomach and passed through to jejunum.

Health care providers use PEG tube feeding (also called percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy) when you can’t swallow food safely or there is a blockage in your esophagus or stomach. Health care providers also use the tube if you can’t take enough food by mouth. The feeding tube lets food bypass the mouth and esophagus and go directly into your stomach or small intestine.

The path of food

When you take food by mouth, you chew your food into small pieces and swallow. The food moves down your esophagus into your stomach. From there, it goes into your small intestine and then into your large intestine. Solid waste (stool) is stored in your rectum and passed out through the anus.

When a PEG feeding tube is needed

Your doctor places PEG tubes with the aid of a special instrument called an endoscope. This is a long, flexible, lighted tube that allows your doctor to see inside your stomach. Your doctor passes the endoscope  through your mouth into your stomach. Your doctor will also make a small surgical cut through your skin and into your stomach. He or she inserts the PEG tube through the opening while watching through the endoscope. A special balloon or cap holds the PEG tube in place inside your stomach. Your health care provider places a small dressing at the new opening.

Digestion works the same

Digestion works the same with a feeding tube as it does when you take food by mouth. So you get the same nutrition by tube feeding as you would get by mouth.


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