Placement of gastric tubes is commonly performed in infants and children but malpositioning is common and is associated with significant complications.
The aim of this systematic review is to identify the evidence on the use of ultrasound to verify correct gastric tube placement in infants and children and gaps in the research.
This review was performed using CINAHL, PUBMED, EMBASE and Web of Science databases. Studies were included if they used an empirical study design, were published in English, included infants or children, and evaluated the use of ultrasound to verify correct gastric tube placement compared to radiograph. Sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative predictive values were evaluated.
Four articles were included in the review. Sensitivity estimates were 0.88 to 1.00 and a positive predictive value of 0.99 was reported in one study. Specificity was not reported in any of the included studies. Ultrasound may be an important method to correctly identify gastric tube placement in infants and children with less radiation exposure and cost.
Implications for Practice:
Ultrasound could be a used to verify gastric tube positioning in infants and children for both initial placement and continued verification leading to reduced radiation exposure and cost.
Implications for Research:
Research should focus on evaluating ultrasound specificity and the clinical feasibility of using ultrasound as a standard practice, including cost and time required to complete the exam, as well as the ability of ultrasound to verify gastric tube placement in infants weighing less than 1500 grams.