It’s normal for caregivers and patients to be concerned about G-tube dislodgment. After all, dislodgment of a G-tube can lead to complications such as gastric leakage, which requires medical attention.
G-tube dislodgment most commonly results from three incidents: when the patient pulls on the tube or the tube gets caught on something, movements of the tube during patient repositioning or transfer, and an under-inflated retention balloon. It’s important to ensure that proper care is used, whether you are the feeding tube patient or serving as the caretaker. Should a tube become dislodged, always check with a physician to ensure proper care and maintenance is given.
Prevention is key in avoiding G-tube dislodgement. The American Society For Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (ASPEN) has created an easy-to-remember guide entitled MARK, to help prevent dislodgment:
- Mark the tube at the exit site with a sharpie or other indelible marker and write down the external length of the tube when it’s placed.
- Anchor the tube with the right kind of securing devices and techniques, which will depend upon where the tube is located. If the stoma site is newer, secure with medical tape, but be careful to avoid putting pressure on the stoma. Dangling tubes should be pinned or taped to clothing to avoid slack that leads to tugging.
- Reassess the tube placement frequently. Notice the distance that the tube normally protrudes. If a G-tube gets shorter or longer, it may be pulling in or out of the body. If the tube disappears or comes out, contact your doctor immediately.
- Keep pressure off the skin where the tube inserts and make sure all caregivers are up to date on best practices for tube care.
In addition, always have a backup tube on hand and be sure to practice good skin care daily, keep the insertion site clean and dry, and check that securement methods are properly in place.
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