The possible complications of placing the percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy tube include pain at the site, leakage of stomach contents through the opening around the tube, malfunction of the tube, infection, and/or bleeding. Please see your doctor right away if you experience any of these as they can signal more serious complications.
Using the Percutaneous Endoscopic Gastrostomy Tube
Food is administered through the tube using a large syringe, a bag with tubing that connects to the percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy tube, or other drip/feeding equipment. Your medical team will provide detailed instructions on how your tube and feeding process will work. The placement of the percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy tube doesn’t mean you cannot eat and drink by mouth. The limitations of this will depend on your condition and will be explained to you by your team.
- The percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy tube may become dirty, usually due to highly concentrated food and insufficient water being used to flush the tube after the feed.
- The percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy tube may leak or expand if it’s been used for a long time or if the food is too hot.
- Food may not be able to be administered through the tube.
- The percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy tube can become dislodged. If this happens, cover the opening with a sterile gauze or bandage and return to the hospital immediately.
The percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy tube can be used for 6-12 months, but long-term use may cause issues and require the tube be replaced. This can usually be done without any anesthesia, depending on the patient’s condition and the doctor’s decision. The doctor can simply pull out the tube and replace it, if needed, or not, if the tube is no longer required. Once removed, the opening in the abdomen will heal quickly. This is also why it’s important that if the tube is replaced, it has to be done carefully. Depending on how long you will need the tube, your doctor will schedule appointments for it to be replaced, usually every 4-6 months.