Nasogastric (NG) Tube

What is a nasogastric (NG) tube?

A nasogastric (NG) tube is a flexible plastic tube that goes through the patient's mouth or nose into the stomach. It is designed to remove stomach contents or provide a route to give medication or food to a patient who cannot swallow. The portion of the NG tube outside of the patient may be plugged closed, connected to a delivery device or connected to a suction device. NG tubes may be inserted while the patient is in the emergency department, operating room, ICU, or regular hospital ward.

Does a NG tube hurt?

The insertion of the NG tube is somewhat uncomfortable for an awake patient but once in place the NG tube usually causes very little irritation. Some patients, however, remain uncomfortable as long as an NG tube is in place.

How is the NG tube kept in place?

Typically, tape is used to secure the NG tube to the patient's nose and hold the NG tube in place.

How long is a NG tube used?

That depends upon why the patient required the NG tube. Frequently a critically ill or injured patient's stomach does not function well because of the underlying illness or injury. That is, the stomach does not empty normally and the solids or liquids remain in the stomach unless they are drained. These patients are usually sick to their stomach and vomit. When this stomach condition occurs, an NG tube is necessary until the stomach function returns. Some patients require a NG tube after surgery until the effects of the surgery and anesthesia on the stomach wear off. If the NG tube was needed due to abnormal swallowing, then it remains in place until the swallowing improves or another option is considered.

Are there any potential complications associated with use of a NG tube?

Rarely, sores develop in the nose or mouth due to pressure caused by a NG tube.

Nasogastric Tube Nasogastric Tube