A practical guide to different feeding tubes available for nutritional support in children, focused on indications, placement methods and complications.
Enteral nutritional support refers to the delivery of nutrition into the gastrointestinal tract distal to the oesophagus. Different feeding tubes are available for exclusive or supplemental nutritional support in children who are unable to independently sustain their own growth, nutritional and hydration status. Gastric feeding is the first choice; however, jejunal feeding provides a good alternative route in the presence of contraindications or intolerance. Feeding tubes can be short or long term: nasogastric and nasojejunal tubes provide short-term nutrition support, gastrostomy and jejunostomy tubes, long-term enteral feeding. The latter are established surgically through the formation of a stoma, an artificial connection between gastric or jejunal lumen and the abdominal wall, performed either endoscopically (percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy, percutaneous endoscopic gastrojejunostomy) or surgically (gastrostomy, direct jejunostomy). Awareness of different available options, technical considerations and potential risks will inform the decision-making process for an individual patient to ensure the correct balance between adequate enteral nutritional and unnecessary morbidity.
Successful administration of nutrition support requires knowledge of the correct indication, route and specific functional details of the appropriate feeding tube.
Department of Paediatric Surgery and urology, Children's Services, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Cambridge, UK
Correspondence to Andrea Volpe, Paediatric Surgery and Urology, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Box 267, Hills Road, CB2 0QQ Cambridge, UK. Tel: +44 1223 216410; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org