Healthcare 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. Healthcare 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.
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.
Your healthcare provider places PEG tubes with the aid of a special instrument called an endoscope. This is a long, flexible, lighted tube that allows your healthcare provider to see inside your stomach. Your healthcare provider passes the endoscope through your mouth into your stomach. Your healthcare provider 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 healthcare provider places a small dressing at the new opening.
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. If you have any questions or concerns about the feeding tube or its care, be certain to ask your provider. If you want a partner or significant other educated along with you about the feeding tube, let your provider or medical team know.
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