Understanding PEG Tube Feeding

Outline of human figure from the side showing digestive system including esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, rectum, and anus. Closeup of cross section of skin with G-tube inserted through skin into stomach. G stands for gastrostomy (an opening in the stomach). May also be called PEG tube. Closeup of cross section of skin with J-tube inserted through skin into jejunum. J stands for jejunum (section of small intestine). May also be called PEJ tube. In certain situations tube may be placed in stomach and passed through to jejunum.

Healthcare providers use PEG (percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy) tube feeding when you can’t swallow food safely or there is a blockage in your esophagus or stomach. It's also used if you can’t take enough food by mouth. The feeding tube lets food bypass the mouth and esophagus and go directly into your stomach or small intestine.

The path of food

When you eat, you chew your food into small pieces and swallow. The food moves down your esophagus into your stomach. From there, it goes into your small intestine and then into your large intestine. Solid waste (stool) is stored in your rectum and passed out through the anus.

How a PEG feeding tube is placed

Your healthcare provider places PEG tubes with the aid of a special instrument called an endoscope. This is a long, flexible, lighted tube that allows your healthcare provider to see inside your stomach. He or she passes the endoscope through your mouth into your stomach. There, a small surgical cut is made through your skin and into your stomach. He or she inserts the PEG tube through the opening while watching through the endoscope. A special balloon or cap holds the PEG tube in place inside your stomach. Your healthcare provider places a small dressing at the new opening.

Digestion works the same

Digestion works the same with a feeding tube as it does when you take food by mouth. So you get the same nutrition by tube feeding as you would get by mouth. If you have any questions or concerns about the feeding tube or its care, be certain to ask your provider. If you want a partner or significant other educated along with you about the feeding tube, let your provider or medical team know.