Long-Term Feeding Tube Care


How to care for your feeding tube at home

Flushing 

 You should instill 30 cc of tap water into the tube 3 times a day and after each use. This prevents bits of debris from closing off the holes in the tube and helps to keep it open and working. If at the time of discharge you are unable to perform this, the hospital will arrange for VNA visits.

Keeping the tubes secure

To avoid them from getting pulled out, all tubes need to be secured to the skin at all times. NEVER leave a tube dangling, as it is at risk or in danger of being caught and pulled out.  If this occurs, place a Band-Aid or sterile dressing over the site and call the Radiology Department.   

Medication Administration

It is ideal to have medications changed into a liquid form.  Your doctor can do this for you.   If you must crush pills, crush them finely. Thoroughly dissolve in warm water.  Follow thoroughly with a flush of warm water or cranberry juice.  If the tube is plugged, try Coca Cola.  Try using smaller sized syringes which will increase the force of flushing pressure. If you have a gastrojejunostomy or a jejunostomy tube, do not use the “jejunal” portion of the tube for medication administration because that will cause the tube to become clogged. 

Wound Care

Always put gauze around the tube next to the skin (under disc/plastic triangle, etc.) then tape the disc securely to the skin.  Change dressing 3 times a /week and whenever necessary.  Clean around the tube with soap and water.  (Use a mild non-perfumed soap).  Apply Bacitracin ointment to the skin around the tube insertion site if it looks red and irritated. 

Shower

You may shower, tape saran wrap over the dressing.  If the dressing becomes wet, replace it with a dry one.

A.      Tube drainage decreases severely or stops and does not clear with irrigating tube.

B.      You have sustained a fever (100.4 F or 38 C)

C.      There is a leakage around the tube at the skin.

D.      You have increased pain.

Sutures

The company that manufactures the sutures states that they should be absorbed within 10 days of placement. We would like you to contact the Interventional Radiology Clinic if you still see sutures on the 7th day post- procedure. You or a family member may also remove the sutures.

Instructions for suture removal:

Unsterile gloves, suture removal kit.  (If you do not have the kit, you will need clean scissors and a pair of tweezers).

You will notice that once you take the old dressing off there are 2 T-tacks surrounding the tube, (they look fishing lines).With the tweezers pull up on the suture and carefully position the scissors under the metal clip and cut the suture.  You may notice that the metal clip that remained inside your stomach gets passed in your stool. This is normal.

Cleanse skin with warm water.  Apply bacitracin around the tube site if skin is reddened.  Place dry sterile split gauze dressing under the disc and on top of the disc tape in place and secure tube so to assure it does not incidentally or accidentally come out.

If you need to reschedule your appointment please call the Interventional Radiology Department at (802) 847 3663.

If you have any questions or need to reschedule an appointment please feel free to contact the Interventional Radiology Office at 802- 847-8359. Our business hours are Monday – Friday 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Someone is available to take your call after hours for emergencies.

This information is provided by the Fletcher Allen's Department of Radiology, division of Interventional Radiology and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition, and for additional health information.