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What is tube feeding?

Tube Feeding

Tube feeding, or enteral feeding, is the delivery of liquid nutrition through a small tube directly into the stomach or the first part of the small intestine. Tube feeding may be necessary for people who have difficulty swallowing or are unable to eat enough food to meet their needs.

Tube feedings can be temporary, as part of rehabilitation until a person can eat again, or long-term for chronic medical conditions requiring nutritional support. People with feeding tubes may still be eating and drinking some foods and liquids by mouth.

Tube feeding is only one method of supplementing the nutritional needs of people with various diseases, disorders and conditions. Discuss all of your nutritional options with your doctor to understand which options are right for you.  

Types of tube feeding

The types of tube feeding include:

  • Gastrostomy (G) tubes are surgically inserted through the skin of the abdomen (belly) directly into the stomach.

  • Jejunal (J) tubes are surgically inserted through the skin of the abdomen (belly) directly into the jejunum (first part of the small intestine).

  • Nasogastric (NG) tubes are inserted through the nose into the stomach.

  • Nasojejunal (NJ) tubes are inserted through the nose into the first portion of the small intestine or jejunum.

Medical Reviewers: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Aug 28, 2016

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Medical References

  1. Feeding Tube Placement. Cleveland Clinic.
  2. Gastrostomy Tubes (G-Tubes). The Nemours Foundation.
  3. Tools for Living Better on Home IV and Tube Feedings. The Oley Foundation.
  4. Tube Feeding. The Oral Cancer Foundation.
  5. Tube Feeding. UC Davis Cancer Center and UC Davis Children’s Hospital.
  6. What Is Enteral Nutrition? American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition.

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