Tips on discussing tube feeding
Although you may be an expert when it comes to managing your child’s tube feeding, it’s important that other adults and children are also in the know when it comes to your child’s special nutritional needs. In this section we look at how to do so, starting with how to explain the basic terms through to where to go for extra information and support.
The list below is not exhaustive, but consider using our explanation of common terms associated with tube feeding to help other adults better understand how your child’s special nutritional needs are managed:1,2
Enteral nutrition is a term used to describe when a person receives nutrition via their gastrointestinal tract either orally or through a feeding tube. This may be needed when a child is unable to take adequate nutrition to maintain growth and development from their diet alone. If nutrition is delivered via a feeding tube, this is known as enteral tube feeding. Different types of tubes will be used based on an individual’s needs
Nasogastric or NG tube
Nasogastric or NG tube is a feeding tube which is placed into the nose and goes down into the stomach. This type of tube is usually used if short term nutritional support (under 8 weeks) is required
Percutaneous Endoscopic Gastrostomy or PEG tube
Percutaneous Endoscopic Gastrostomy or PEG tube is a feeding tube placed directly into the stomach, for more information on PEG feeding please click here. PEG tubes are generally used if nutritional support is expected to last longer than 8 weeks
Jejunal feeding is an approach which enables children who are unable to obtain sufficient nutrition orally and do not have a functioning stomach, to receive the nutrition they need by allowing them to be fed into their small intestine (jejunum), either directly via a jejunostomy or via their nose by using a nasojejunal (NJ) tube
Nasojejunal or NJ tube
Nasojejunal or NJ tube is a feeding tube which is placed into the nose and goes down into the jejunum (part of the small intestine). This type of tube is usually used if short term nutritional support is required
Stoma site is the area of skin surrounding the site where a gastrostomy or jejunostomy goes directly into the stomach or jejunum respectively
Giving set connects a feeding tube, such as a PEG or NG tube, to the feed bottle
Tube feed is a feed which contains calories, protein and other essential nutrients such as vitamins and minerals that a child needs to sustain them whilst being unable to meet all their nutritional needs from eating / drinking alone. The exact feed a child receives is determined by a healthcare professional and will be selected according to their specific requirements
Continuous feeding is a term used to describe how feed is delivered via a feeding tube continuously over a set period of time. A feeding pump or gravity set may be used. A healthcare professional will carefully decide if this is the best route for your child
Bolus feeding is a term used to describe how feed is delivered via a feeding tube and is when a person receives their nutrition over short periods of time and several times a day. A healthcare professional will carefully decide if this is the best route for your child
Feeding pump is a device which allows your child’s feed to be delivered from the feed container via their feeding tube and into their stomach or jejunum. The feeding pump can be adjusted to deliver a specific amount of feed and at a specific rate. The amount and the rate of feed will be determined by your child’s healthcare professional according to their individual needs
Gravity set a piece of equipment which enables continuous tube feeding in the absence of a feeding pump. A gravity set, as the name suggests, relies on gravity to deliver the tube feed to your child. Your child’s healthcare professional will decide which approach is most suited to their individual needs
For answers to commonly asked questions and stories from parents of children with special nutritional needs, refer to PINNT’s website which is an excellent support group for people and children receiving nutritional support.
If you have any concerns, please discuss these with your healthcare professional.
- PINNT, 2014: http://pinnt.com/Therapies/Enteral-Nutrition.aspx
Accessed 26th August 2014.
- PINNT, 2014: http://pinnt.com/getattachment/Therapies/Enteral-Nutrition/PEG_booklet-1-.pdf.aspx Accessed 26th August 2014.