What is percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (peg)?

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Percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG): Overview

Percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) is a procedure to make an opening between the skin of your belly and your stomach. The doctor will put a thin tube called a gastrostomy tube into your stomach through the opening. This tube is sometimes called a G-tube, a PEG tube, or a feeding tube. The tube can put liquid nutrition, fluid, and medicines directly into your stomach. It also may be used to drain liquid or air from the stomach.

The doctor will put a thin, lighted tube (scope) into your mouth. The scope is used to guide the feeding tube to the stomach. The doctor will pull the end of the feeding tube through an incision in your belly. This end of the tube stays outside the body.

You will probably be able to go home on the day of the procedure or the day after. Before you go home, your doctor or nurse will teach you how to use and care for your feeding tube.

How can you care for yourself after percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG)?

Activity

  • Rest when you feel tired. Getting enough sleep will help you recover.
  • Try to walk each day. Start by walking a little more than you did the day before. Bit by bit, increase the amount you walk. Walking boosts blood flow and helps prevent pneumonia and constipation.
  • Ask your doctor when you can drive again.
  • Until your doctor says it is okay, avoid lifting anything that would make you strain. This may include heavy grocery bags and milk containers, a heavy briefcase or backpack, cat litter or dog food bags, a vacuum cleaner, or a child.
  • You can shower as usual. Pat dry the skin around your feeding tube. Do not take a bath unless your doctor tells you it is okay.

Diet

  • Follow your doctor's instructions about eating and drinking.
  • Follow your doctor's instructions about what nutrition and fluids to feed through your tube.

Medicines

  • Your doctor will tell you if and when you can restart your medicines. You will also be given instructions about taking any new medicines.
  • If you stopped taking aspirin or some other blood thinner, your doctor will tell you when to start taking it again.
  • If you take medicine through your feeding tube:
    • Follow exactly your doctor's instructions about how to do this. Do not try to put whole pills in your feeding tube. They may get stuck. Ask your doctor if liquid medicine is available.
    • Do not mix your medicine with tube-feeding formula. This can cause a clog in the feeding tube.
    • Do not put more than one medicine down your feeding tube at a time.
    • Flush the tube with water before and after you put each medicine down your tube.
  • Be safe with medicines. Take pain medicines exactly as directed.
    • If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
    • Store your prescription pain medicines where no one else can get to them. When you are done using them, dispose of them quickly and safely. Your local pharmacy or hospital may have a drop-off site.

Incision care

  • Your doctor or nurse will show you how to care for the skin around the tube. Be sure to follow the instructions on keeping the area clean.
  • Wash the skin around your feeding tube daily with warm, soapy water, and pat it dry. Other cleaning products, such as hydrogen peroxide, can make the wound heal more slowly. You may cover the area with a gauze bandage if it weeps or rubs against clothing. Change the bandage every day.
  • Keep the area clean and dry.

Using your feeding tube

  • Follow your doctor's instructions about using the feeding tube. Your doctor or nurse will:
    • Tell you what to put through the tube.
    • Teach you how to watch for a leaking tube, infection at the tube site, or a clog in the tube.
    • Tell you what activities you can do.
  • Keep your feeding tube clamped unless you are using it.
  • Keep the tube taped to your skin at all times, and leave some slack in the tube. This helps prevent pain and keeps the tube from coming out.
  • Wash your hands before you handle the tube and tube-feeding formula. Wash the top of the can of formula before you open it.
  • Keep the formula in the refrigerator after you open it. Follow your doctor's instructions about how long formula can sit out at room temperature.
  • Sit up or keep your head up during the feeding and for 30 to 60 minutes after.
  • If you feel sick to your stomach or have stomach cramps during the tube feeding, slow the rate that the formula comes through the tube. Then gradually increase the rate as you can tolerate it.

How do you prepare for your child's percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG)?

Procedures can be stressful for both your child and you. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for your child's procedure.

Preparing for the procedure

  • Talk to your child about the procedure. Say that it will help your child get the food, liquids, and medicines needed to stay healthy. Hospitals know how to take care of children. The staff will do all they can to make it easier for your child.
  • Ask if a special tour of the surgery area and hospital is available. This may make your child feel less nervous about what happens.
  • Plan for your child's recovery time. Your child may need more of your time right after the surgery, both for care and for comfort.
  • Understand exactly what procedure is planned, along with the risks, benefits, and other options.
  • Tell the doctor ALL the medicines, vitamins, supplements, and herbal remedies your child takes. Some may increase the risk of problems during the procedure. Your doctor will tell you if your child should stop taking any of them before the procedure and how soon to do it.

The day before the procedure

  • A nurse may call you (or you may need to call the hospital). This is to confirm the time and date of your child's procedure and answer any questions.
  • Remember to follow your doctor's instructions about your child taking or stopping medicines before the procedure. This includes over-the-counter medicines.

After percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy: When to call

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You pass out (lose consciousness).
  • You have severe trouble breathing.
  • You have sudden chest pain and shortness of breath, or you cough up blood.
  • You have severe belly pain.

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have pain that does not get better after you take pain medicine.
  • You have signs of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the area.
    • Pus draining from the area.
    • A fever.
  • The stitches that hold the feeding tube in place are loose or come out.
  • Your feeding tube comes out.
  • Your feeding tube is clogged, or liquid will not go down the tube.
  • You cough a lot or have other trouble during tube feedings.
  • You have nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

Watch closely for any changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You have any problems with your feeding tube.

After percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG): Overview

PEG is a procedure to make an opening between the skin of your belly and your stomach. The doctor put a thin tube called a gastrostomy tube (also called G-tube, PEG tube, or feeding tube) into your stomach through the opening. The tube can put liquid nutrition, fluid, and medicines directly into your stomach. The tube also may be used to drain liquid or air from the stomach.

Your belly may feel sore, like you pulled a muscle, for several days. It will take about a week for the skin around your feeding tube to heal. You may have some yellowish mucus where the feeding tube comes out of your belly. This is normal. It's not a sign of infection.

You will need to learn how to use and care for your feeding tube. Your doctor may recommend that you have a nurse or dietitian visit you at home to help you get started with your feeding tube. At first you may need a friend or family member to help you with your tube feedings. But with practice, you may be able to do it yourself.

A feeding tube can break down over time. If this happens, the tube will be removed and replaced. Sometimes a tube is removed if you have an infection that is getting worse. Sometimes a tube will come out by itself. Your doctor will give you instructions about what to do if this happens.

How is a percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) done?

You will get medicine to numb the back of your throat. You also will get medicine to make you sleep or feel relaxed. The medicine also prevents pain during the procedure. The doctor will put a thin, lighted tube that bends (called an endoscope, or scope) into your mouth. The doctor will move the scope gently down your throat. The scope will have a camera on it. The doctor will look at a monitor (like a TV set or a computer screen) while moving the scope into your stomach. Puffs of air will be sent through the scope. This inflates your stomach. It helps the doctor see where to place the feeding tube.

The doctor will make a small cut in your belly. The cut is called an incision. The doctor will put the feeding tube into your mouth. The tube will be guided down your throat into your stomach. The doctor will pull one end of the feeding tube out of your belly through the incision. This end of the feeding tube will stay outside your body. The other end will stay in your stomach. The doctor may use stitches to close the incision around the feeding tube.

What happens on the day of your child's percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG)?

  • Follow the instructions exactly about when your child should stop eating and drinking. If you don't, the procedure may be canceled. If your doctor told you to have your child take any medicines on the day of the procedure, have your child take them with only a sip of water.
  • Follow the doctor's instructions about when your child should bathe or shower before the procedure. Do not apply lotion or deodorant.
  • Your child may brush their teeth. But tell your child not to swallow any toothpaste or water.
  • Do not let your child wear contact lenses. Bring your child's glasses or contact lens case.
  • Be sure your child has something that's a reminder of home. A special stuffed animal, toy, or blanket may be comforting. For an older child, it might be a book or music.

At the hospital or surgery center

  • A parent or legal guardian must accompany your child.
  • Your child will be kept comfortable and safe by the anesthesia provider. Your child will be asleep during the procedure.
  • The procedure will take about 30 to 45 minutes.
  • After the procedure, your child will be taken to the recovery room. As your child wakes up, the recovery staff will monitor your child's condition. The doctor will talk to you about the procedure.
  • Your child will have a feeding tube coming out of the incision in their belly. They may have gauze around the incision. They may have a plastic bag attached to the end of their feeding tube. The bag will be removed before they go home.

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