If you have a medical condition that makes it hard to eat enough food, you might need a percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) tube. The PEG tube is inserted through the skin on the abdomen and into the stomach.
Why is a PEG tube inserted?
The procedure is performed so that liquid food can be transferred directly into the stomach. It helps people who have difficulty chewing or swallowing.
How to prepare for a PEG tube placement
After doing a physical examination, your doctor is likely to:
- review your medicines and may make changes if any of them cause thinning of the blood
- do blood tests and urine tests
- do an x-ray of your stomach
- use an endoscope to examine the inside of your stomach
You will need to fast for several hours before the procedure and should arrange for someone to take you home afterwards.
What happens during a PEG tube placement
You will usually be given a sedative to help you relax. You’ll probably also have a local anaesthetic so you can swallow the endoscope more easily.
You will have an endoscope inserted through your mouth to your stomach. It’s used to find the best place in the stomach for the PEG tube.
Then the skin under the ribs is numbed with local anaesthetic so a small cut can be made where the PEG tube will exit the body.
A wire is passed through the cut and into the stomach at the position marked by the endoscope. The endoscope grips the wire and pulls the wire up to the mouth. The PEG tube is then attached to the wire.
The wire is then used to draw the PEG tube from the mouth to the stomach, through the stomach wall and through the abdomen at the cut under the ribs.
After all that, one end of the PEG tube will sit in your stomach, and the other will sit against your skin. The whole procedure usually takes 20 to 30 minutes.
What to expect after the procedure
You might or might not be allowed to go home the same day. Before leaving hospital, you’ll be trained in how to use the PEG tube.
After 6 to 24 hours, you will be given clear fluids through the PEG tube. Once you are used to this, feeds and medicines can be given.
What can go wrong?
Problems are rare. Infection or bleeding in the abdomen may occur, or the tube might become blocked or move.
If you have severe pain, swelling or fluid leaking around the PEG tube, contact your doctor without delay.
About PEG tube placement
Talk to your doctor if you have questions about PEG tube placement.
About surgical procedures
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Last reviewed: December 2018