1. You will dress in a patient gown and lie on a procedure table.
  2. Your team will insert an IV to provide fluids and medications.
  3. You will receive a medication (a light sedative) to make you drowsy and relaxed and possibly a pain medication. In some cases, you may receive deeper sedation or anesthesia, in which you are more relaxed and unaware of the procedure and may not remember it. Children and infants may receive general anesthesia for feeding tube placement.
  4. Your team will attach devices to monitor your vital signs.
  5. For a nasojejunal (NJ) tube, your doctor will insert the tube through your nose and feed it to its position in the first part of the small intestine.
  6. Your doctor will place your gastrostomy (G) tube or jejunal (J) tube using a laparoscopic surgical technique or using a percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) procedure through the skin.
  7. Your team may take X-ray or fluoroscopy images once the tube placement is complete in order to verify its position.

Will I feel pain?

Your comfort and relaxation is important to both you and your care team. If an IV is necessary for your tube placement, you may feel a brief pinch or prick when the IV is inserted. You may also feel pressure and movement if your feeding tube is inserted through your nose and a brief gagging sensation as it passes through the throat. This should pass quickly.

You will receive enough pain, local anesthetic, and sedative medications to stay comfortable. Tell your care team if you are uncomfortable.

What are the risks and potential complications of feeding tube placement?  

Complications after a feeding tube placement are uncommon, but any medical procedure involves risk and possible complications. Complications may become serious in some cases. Complications can develop during the procedure or your recovery. Risks and potential complications of a feeding tube placement include: 

  • Adverse reaction or problems related to sedation or medications such as an allergic reaction and problems with breathing 
  • Bleeding of the surgical site or from the nose
  • Blockage, movement, or displacement of the tube 
  • Infection
  • Inserting a feeding tube through the nose into the windpipe instead of the esophagus
  • Small risk of cancer due to radiation exposure. Your care team follows strict standards for X-ray techniques and will use the lowest amount of radiation possible to make the best images. Your doctor will generally not order an X-ray if you are pregnant due to the danger of radiation to an unborn child.
  • Soreness or discomfort of the abdomen (belly)

Reducing your risk of complications

You can reduce the risk of certain complications by following your treatment plan and: 

  • Following all instructions for the proper care and use of the feeding tube
  • Following activity, dietary and lifestyle restrictions and recommendations before your procedure and during recovery
  • Informing your doctor or radiologist if you are nursing or if there is any possibility that you may be pregnant
  • Notifying your doctor immediately of any concerns such as bleeding, fever, or increase in pain
  • Taking your medications exactly as directed
  • Telling all members of your care team if you have any allergies 

How do I prepare for my tube feeding?

You are an important member of your own healthcare team. The steps you take before your procedure can improve your comfort and outcome. 

You can prepare for a feeding tube placement by:

  • Answering all questions about your medical history, allergies, and medications. This includes prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs, herbal treatments, and vitamins. It is a good idea to carry a current list of your medical conditions, medications, and allergies at all times.
  • Taking or stopping medications exactly as directed. This may include not taking aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), and blood thinners.  

Questions to ask your doctor

Preparing for a feeding tube placement can be stressful. It is common for patients to forget some of their questions during a doctor’s office visit. You may also think of other questions after your appointment. Contact your doctor with concerns and questions before your procedure and between appointments.