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Managing your Nasogastric (NG) feeding tube at home

Date issued: September 2023

Review date: September 2025

Ref: C-541/DR/Dietetics/Managing your Nasogastric (NG) feeding tube at home

PDF:  Managing your Nasogastric (NG) feeding tube at home[pdf] 544KB

1. Cleaning your tube

It is important that you maintain tube-hygiene to prevent tube deterioration and the risk of contamination.

  1. Clean the outside ports daily with warm, soapy water and be sure to dry thoroughly afterwards.

  2. Be sure to remove excess feed and medications to prevent bacterial growth and tube deterioration. 

2. Position check

It is crucial that you check the position of your tube before administering any substance. This includes all fluids, feed, and medications.

  1. At insertion, your tube is placed at a specific length (……..cms). It is important that you make sure that the tube is always within 2-3-cms of this length.

  2. To detect tube movement, you can use a marker pen to indicate where the tube has been placed.

3a. Getting an aspirate

Getting an aspirate (pH) prior to the administration of any substance into the tube is mandatory to ensure that it is safe to proceed.

  1. Screw the 60mL Enteral Syringe onto one of the tube ports, and gently pull back until ~5-mLs of aspirate is visible in the syringe.

  2. Gently push some of the aspirate onto one of the pH Indicator Strips. Ensure that the Strips are in-date.

  3. Hold the Strip and compare against the pH bottle. The pH must be under 5.5.

If the pH is above 5.5, do not administer any substance via the tube (see ‘WHAT TO DO IF YOU GET TUBE ISSUES.’) 

3b. Trouble shooting the aspirate  

Sometimes getting an aspirate can be difficult. This is particularly the case if we’ve had little to no nutrition or fluids, or for seemingly no reason at all! If you cannot get an aspirate, try the following:

  1. If able, lay on your left side, re-try aspirate.

  2. If able, elevate your legs, re-try aspirate.

  3. If able, place a pillow under your lower back, re-try aspirate.

4. Flushing your tube

It is important to flush your tube for three main reasons: to maintain hydration, to reduce tube blockages, and to maintain tube hygiene. 

  1. Take a 60mL Enteral Syringe, draw up 30-60 mLs of water.

  2. Screw the Syringe onto one of the tube ports, and push the plunger until the water is expelled.

  3. This can be repeated as many times as necessary as indicated by your Dietitian

5. What to do if your tube issues

Common issues with NG tubes include displacement (e.g., through vomiting or accidental removal), blockages, consistently unable to aspirate, and perforation of the tube. If any of these (or anything else) should happen, do the following:

  1. Try not to panic!

  2. During Work Hours

  3. Contact:……………………….       

          Tel: .........................................

  Out of Hours: ….............................

  1. If in doubt, please present to the Emergency Department for urgent assessment.

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