Discharge Instructions: Checking Placement of Nasogastric Feeding Tube

You are going home with a nasogastric feeding tube in place. You will need to check the tube regularly to make sure the tip of the tube stays in your stomach. You were shown how to care for your tube in the hospital. In general, these tubes are used for short-term use especially in adults. Tubes are used directly into the stomach or small intestine if longer access is needed (such as a G tube, PEG tube, or PEJ tube). This sheet helps you remember those steps when you are at home. Be sure you have the telephone number of your healthcare provider or caregiver easily available in case you have any questions or problems. 

Home care

  • Gather your supplies:

    • Permanent marker pen

    • Measuring tape or ruler

    • 50 mL syringe for use in flushing the tube and possibly for feedings 

  • Check placement of your tube once every day.

  • Look for the mark on your tube at the place where it comes out of your nose. If there is no mark, make one.

  • Look to see that the mark you made on the tube is still in the same place each time you check placement.

  • Measure the length of the tube from your nose (nasal tube) to the end of the tube. If it’s not the same length as it was the day before, your tube may not be in the right place.

When to call your healthcare provider

Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the following:

  • Choking (call 911)

  • Trouble breathing during feeding, flushing, or giving medicine

  • Tube that can’t be unclogged

  • Tube that falls out or difficulty telling whether your tube is in your stomach

  • Tube that is cracked or breaking down 

  • Diarrhea that lasts more than 3 loose stools

  • Constipation that lasts more than 48 hours

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider

  • Bloody or coffee-colored drainage through tube

  • Red, warm, or tender skin around the tube

  • Sudden weight loss or gain (more than 2 pounds in 24 hours)

  • Bloated or tight stomach

  • Signs tube is not in right place. If these occur, stay in an upright position—don't lie down:

    • Coughing

    • Feeding formula in your saliva

    • Problems catching your breath