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Enteral Nutrition: Definition & Guidelines

Instructor: Amanda Okuley

Amanda is a Registered Nurse with a passion for knowledge and wellness.

When a person is not able to eat or drink, they are given nutrition through a method called enteral nutrition, or tube feeding. In this lesson, we will discuss important considerations to keep in mind when a person is on the various types of tube feeding.

Good News!

It is believed that 80% of the flavors we taste actually come from what we smell. This is great news for those with enteral nutrition on board because they receive some or all of their food through a tube. Enteral nutrition is a way of providing life-sustaining nutrition and hydration to those that are unable to chew and swallow like others. A surgical opening is created within the gastrointestinal tract. From there, a liquid form of food is delivered, as well as water. This allows the person to receive the necessary nutrients they need to remain alive and well.

Nasogastric Tube

There are several types of tube feedings available to those in need. A temporary tube from the nose into the stomach is called a nasogastric tube. This is a short term method of delivering nutrients, and also allows for the patient to have their stomach contents emptied if needed.

When delivering tube feeding, placement of this tube must be checked prior to administering the feedings. A placement check can be done is several ways. The most common way is to fill a large syringe with approximately 30cc of air, and quickly administer it into the tube while listening to the stomach with a stethoscope. This allows the person listening to determine if the air was delivered into the stomach, therefore confirming correct placement. Other means include withdrawing the stomach contents and checking the pH, and lastly, obtaining an x-ray may be done to confirm placement.

G-Tube

Another type of tube is called a gastric tube, or G-tube. These tubes are inserted through a small incision in the abdomen. They are sewn into place with stitches to keep them secure. This type of tube does not require a placement check before administering the tube feedings. These tubes are used in more of a permanent or semi-permanent situation. Special care needs to be taken to ensure that this tube is not accidentally removed. If this occurs, the tube needs to be surgically replaced. Patients and care providers need to also monitor the tube site for the possibility of infection.

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