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Managing Treatments: Nutrition: Tube Feeding

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Gastrostomy tube (G-tube)

In an effort to ingest enough calories and gain weight, many children and adult CF patients use tube feedings for additional nutritional support.

What is a G-tube?

Gastrostomy tubes, or G-tubes, help provide extra calories. A physician implants a small tube through the skin into the stomach, which is connected to a longer tube and pump at night. The pump delivers a high-calorie formula while the patient sleeps. This way, it’s possible for CF patients to get an extra 1,000-1,500 calories at night.

What is an NG Tube?

Nasogastric (NG) tubes are inserted through the nose into the stomach. They can be inserted and removed every night, or left in for up to a month at a time. The NG tube is then connected to a longer tube and a pump at night, delivering a high-calorie formula while the patient sleeps. With this method, it is possible to get an extra 1,000-1,500 calories at night.

Can I eat during the day if I have a G-tube or an NG tube?

Yes. You can still eat normally throughout the day and you may actually be able to stop taking high-calorie supplements because you will receive so many calories at night.

Do I need to take enzymes with a tube feeding?

Yes. Your CF team will explain how you should take your enzymes; many patients take a “meal” dose of enzymes at the beginning and end of the feedings.

How long will the feedings run?

Your CF team can help you decide your tube feeding schedule. Feedings are usually completed when you sleep.

Do I have to keep a G-tube forever?

No. You should keep your tube only as long as you need it. Some people are able to gain enough weight and eat enough by mouth to have their tube removed, while others prefer the “insurance” that a tube provides.

Who should I talk to about getting a tube?

If you think a tube might be the right choice for you, discuss it with your CF team. They will refer you to a gastroenterologist for tube placement and education.