This is surgery to place a tube through the abdomen and into the stomach. Gastrostomy can be done as:
- Endoscopic procedure—a more common and less invasive procedure called percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG)
- Open procedure—a large incision is made in the abdomen
Reasons for Procedure
A gastrostomy tube provides an alternative feeding site. It may be needed to:
- Feed a person who has a hard time swallowing, has appetite problems, or is otherwise unable to eat
- Drain the stomach of acid and fluids that have built up due to gastrointestinal problems, such as bowel obstruction due to cancer
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
- Aspiration—accidental sucking into the airways of fluid, food, or any foreign material
- Damage to other organs
- Anesthesia-related problems
- Skin irritation around the tube
- Dislodging or malfunctioning of the tube
Complications are more common in older adults. Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
- Obesity or diabetes
- Smoking, alcohol use disorder , or drug abuse
- Use of certain prescription medications
- Prior abdominal surgeries
Be sure to discuss these risks with your doctor before the surgery.
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
Your doctor will likely do the following:
- Medical history
- Review of medications
- Physical exam
- Assessment of swallowing ability
- Blood and urine tests
- X-rays of the abdomen
- Upper GI endoscopy —use of a tube with a lighted camera is used to view the inside of the stomach
Leading up to your procedure:
- Talk to your doctor about your medications. You may be asked to stop taking some medications up to one week before the procedure.
- Avoid food or fluids after midnight before surgery.
- Arrange for a ride to and from the hospital.
General anesthesia will be used. It will block any pain and keep you asleep through the surgery.
Description of the Procedure
If you are unable to undergo PEG, this will be done as an open procedure. In some cases, gastrostomy may be done at the same time as another stomach surgery. An incision will be made through the skin, abdominal wall, and into the stomach. A tube will then be placed through the skin and into the stomach. This tube will be stitched in place. The incision will be closed.
Immediately After Procedure
The doctor will make sure that the tube is placed correctly. You will be moved to the recovery room and monitored closely.
How Long Will It Take?
At least 1 hour
How Much Will It Hurt?
You will have pain after the surgery. Ask your doctor about medication to help with the pain.
Average Hospital Stay
This procedure is done in a hospital setting. The usual length of stay is several days. Your doctor may choose to keep you longer if complications arise.
After the procedure, you can expect the following:
- Depending on your condition, you may need to get nutrition through an IV for the first day or 2 after the tube placement or until your intestine is working normally. You will then be started on clear liquids. You will gradually move to thicker liquids.
- Learn how to administer tube feedings. Also, learn how to flush out your tube. This will decrease the risk of blockages.
- Learn what to do if you have a serious complication such as a dislodged tube or aspiration.
Call Your Doctor
Call your doctor if any of these occur:
- Signs of infection, including fever and chills
- Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or discharge from the incision site around the tube
- Problems with the tube, including if it becomes dislodged, clogged, or malfunctions; dislodging is most common during the first 2 weeks that the tube is in place
- Leaking of feedings around the site of the tube
- Cough, shortness of breath, chest pain
- Nausea, vomiting, constipation , or abdominal swelling
- Inability to pass gas or have a bowel movement
- Severe abdominal pain
If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
- Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Daus Mahnke, MD
- Review Date: 11/2018 -
- Update Date: 12/20/2014 -