Enteral feeding, or tube feeding, is used for patients suffering from a variety of medical conditions. Enteral feeding can be utilized for temporary need or long-term need. There are two methods of enteral feeding that provide nutritional support to patients.
Temporary feeding is generally accomplished through the use of a nasogastric tube. Nasogastric tubes run through the nasal cavity and into the stomach, delivering food directly. Feeding formulas are delivered through the tube by the use of a syringe or a feeding pump. There are also economical gravity forced feeding systems that can be used. When using a feeding pump, tubing may differ in order to accommodate individual pumping system requirements. Nasojejuno tubes can also be used for temporary feeding, running from the nasal cavity and into the jejunum, bypassing the stomach all together. Tubing is generally secured to the nose or face with skin-friendly medical tape.
Long-Term feeding is accomplished through percutaneous endoscopic gastrotomy tubes, also known simply as PEG tubes. The PEG tube is inserted via endoscopy into the stomach or intestine. The feeding end of the PEG tube integrates into the dermis of the abdomen and is easy to access for feedings. Many patients who remain independent can easily attach feeding syringes, pumping systems, or gravity bags to their PEG tube as needed. Those without the capacity to manage such feeding routines require a caregiver to provide the feeding appropriately. Feeding schedules can vary by patient, some require feeding overnight. Fortunately, many systems are convenient and portable for patients on the go. While not discreet, independent patients can care for themselves as necessary wherever they are. Percutaneous endoscopic jejunostom tubes, or PEJ tubes, function the same as PEG tubes but deliver nutritional formulas into the jejunum instead of the stomach.