Nasogastric (NG) tubes are thin, soft tubes that are passed through your child’s nostril, down their throat and into the stomach. Once inserted, they remain in place, held by tape on your child’s cheek.
Inserting the NG tube is usually quick and easy. It doesn’t hurt, but your child might feel a brief amount of discomfort as the tube is inserted. Once in place it is something most children get used to very quickly.
NG tubes are designed for short-term use. The tube will need to be replaced and swapped to the other nostril after about a month.
Percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) tubes
PEG stands for percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy, a procedure in which a flexible feeding tube is inserted directly into your child’s stomach via a small incision. The procedure is usually carried out under a general anaesthetic.
PEG tubes are designed for long-term use. They are often used if your child has been reliant on an NG tube for a while and is likely to need a feeding tube in the longer-term. They last for several months before they need to be replaced.
Total Parenteral Nutrition
In rarer circumstances, Total Parenteral Nutrition (TPN) may be suggested.
TPN is a form of liquid food given directly into the bloodstream. TPN allows nutrition to be given in circumstances when your child’s intestines (gut) might not be working very well (for example due to side effects of chemotherapy). TPN delivers a solution of nutrients directly into a vein, either continuously or overnight, preferably through a central line. The line is placed under the skin and into a vein leading to the heart. The other end comes out through a small incision in your child’s chest. It is inserted and removed under general anaesthetic.
TPN is usually only used when other methods, such as NG or PEG feeding, have been tried and failed to deliver enough nutrition for your child.
Your child’s team will talk through all of the feeding options with you should your child need help with feeding.