Feeding Tube Education: Changing and Replacing the Feeding Tube

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What to Do if the Feeding Tube Falls Out or is Pulled Out Accidentally

If it has been less than 3 months since the tube was placed (any tube type)

Covering the stoma with gauze

  • Cover the opening with gauze (see Picture 1) or a clean cloth.
  • If the feeding tube is new or has not yet been replaced by a clinician and comes out accidentally, call the doctor who takes care of problems with your child’s tube.
  • If you cannot reach the doctor, take your child to the local emergency department. The opening should have a tube of similar or smaller size placed within 4 hours or less so the opening does not close. Be sure to take the tube that fell out with you to the doctor or the emergency department.

If it has been more than 3 months since the tube was placed (any tube type)

  • If it has been more than 3 months since your child’s G-tube was placed and your child’s doctor says that you can change the tube on your own, follow instructions for “Putting a New G-tube in the Stomach” (See below).
  • If the doctor has NOT shown you how to change the tube, call the doctor who takes care of problems with your child’s tube.
  • If you are unable to put the new feeding tube in, cover the opening with gauze (see Picture 1) or a clean cloth and call the doctor who takes care of problems with your child’s tube. If you cannot reach the doctor, take your child to the local emergency department. The opening should have a tube of similar or smaller size placed within 4 hours or less so the opening does not close. Be sure to take the tube that fell out with you to the doctor or the emergency department.

Important Note about GJ tubes:
If your child had a GJ tube placed more than 3 months ago, you’ll need to replace the g-tube to keep the stoma open. Please follow instructions for “Putting a New G-tube in the Stomach” (See below). Don’t try to put the jejunostomy tube back in place – the doctor will need to do this.  Call the doctor who takes care of problems with your child’s tube.

Changing and Replacing the Feeding Tube

When to change the feeding tube

The first scheduled tube change will happen about 3 months after surgery.  

If your child has had the feeding tube for more than 3 months and your child’s doctor says that you can change the tube on your own, follow the instructions below to change or replace the feeding tube. If the doctor has NOT shown you how to change the tube on your own, check with the doctor who takes care of problems with your child’s tube.  

Removing a G-tube

Supplies you’ll need:

  • Catheter-tip syringe
  • Gauze or a clean washcloth
  1. Remove the g-tube dressing (if you child’s tube has a dressing).
  2. Put the tip of an empty syringe into the balloon port of the g-tube. Pull back gently to remove the water from the balloon (see Picture 2 or 3 below).
  3. Removing from the balloon

     

  4. Gently remove the g-tube.
  5. Hold a piece of gauze or a washcloth over the opening to absorb the stomach contents.

Putting a New G-tube in the Stomach

Supplies you’ll need:

  • Catheter-tip syringe
  • 3-5 mL of water
  • Water Soluble Gel (such as K-Y Jelly©)
  • Feeding Tube
  • Split 2x2 gauze dressing (if applicable)
  • Tape
  1. Check the balloon of the new G-tube for leaks. Use a syringe to put 3 to 5 mL of water into the balloon port (see Picture 4A or 5A below). Then check for leaks. Do not use salt water or air; this can cause the balloon to break. If there is a leak in the balloon, the tube is not working. Do not use it. Pull back on the plunger to remove the water from the balloon (See Picture 4B or 5B below).
  2. Removing water from the feeding tube

  3. Put a dab of water soluble gel, such as K-Y Jelly©, on the tip of the G-tube.
  4. Gently put the tube into the stoma (stomach opening) about one inch (see Picture 6 below).
  5. Inserting the feeding tube into the stoma

  6. Inflate the balloon with 3-5 mL of water (see Picture 7 or below). Never use more than 5 mL of water.
  7. Inflating the balloon

  8.  Gently pull up on the G-tube until you feel tension from the balloon against the stomach wall.
  9. Pull the external bumper snugly on the skin to keep the tube from moving (see Picture 9 below).
  10. Pulling the external bumper

  11. If you are using a gauze dressing, place a 2x2 split gauze pad under the external bumper around the G-tube.
  12. Tape the gauze and external bumper to the skin to hold the tube in place (see Picture 10 below).
  13. Taping the external bumper

  14. Check to be sure that stomach content or gas comes out of the new tube.
  15. Flush the new tube with water.

View and print the Feeding Tube Workbook (PDF)