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Safety of Percutaneous Endoscopic Gastrostomy in Medically Complicated Infants

Minar, Philip; Garland, Jeffery; Martinez, Alfonso; Werlin, Steven

Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition: September 2011 - Volume 53 - Issue 3 - p 293–295
doi: 10.1097/MPG.0b013e318215c41b
Original Articles: Gastroenterology

Background and Objective: Percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) tubes have been placed in children for more than 2 decades to provide nutrition to those unable to adequately and safely feed orally. Despite the well-documented success of PEG placement in older children, there is only 1 published article documenting the safety of PEG placement in small infants. In all children, PEG studies demonstrate the major complication rate to vary from 0.5% to 17%. The objective of this study was to evaluate the incidence of acute complications of PEG placement in medically complicated infants with a weight of less than 6 kg.

Patients and Methods: We reviewed the charts of all infants cared for in the neonatal intensive care unit of Wheaton Franciscan Health Care-St Joseph's Regional Hospital, Milwaukee, WI, who received a PEG tube between January 2001 and June 30, 2008.

Results: Forty infants with a mean gestational age of 29 weeks (range 23–41 weeks) with a mean weight of 3250 g (range 2100–5600 g) at time of PEG placement were included. The primary indication for most infants was dysphagia or inability to orally feed safely. A PEG was successfully placed in 38 of 40 (95%) infants. There was 1 major complication: a 38-week infant with Prader-Willi syndrome developed a pneumomediastinum caused by a tear at the upper esophageal sphincter. In a second infant the PEG bumper could not be passed beyond the upper esophageal sphincter. Sixteen infants had other surgical procedures performed at the time of PEG placement. For those infants only having a PEG placed, the mean procedure time was 10 minutes.

Conclusions: PEG placement is both feasible and safe in small, medically complicated infants.

Divisions of Gastroenterology and Perinatology, Department of Pediatrics, Wheaton Franciscan Health Care-St Joseph's Regional Hospital, Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, and the Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Steven Werlin, MD, Department of Pediatrics, Medical College of Wisconsin, 8701 Watertown Plank Rd, Milwaukee, WI 53226 (e-mail:

Received 20 September, 2010

Accepted 15 February, 2011

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

Copyright 2011 by ESPGHAN and NASPGHAN