Gastronomy Tube (G-Tube)

What is a gastrostomy tube?

A gastrostomy tube, called a "G-tube" for short, is a tube that is placed directly into your child's stomach through the outside of his belly. The opening in the skin for the tube is called a stoma.

Children need G-tubes for a variety of reasons, but the most common is for feedings. For many reasons, some children can't eat enough food by mouth to grow. These children can get G-tube feedings that have enough calories and nutrients to help them grow well.

Another reason some children might have a G-tube is because they can't burp on their own. The G-tube can be opened to let gas and/or fluid out of the stomach.

Gastrostomy tubes illustration

Low Profile Button G-Tube (Above image)
There are many different types of enteral tubes used to enhance children's nutrition. The type of tube selected depends on each patient's unique medical condition. This image shows a commonly used gastrostomy tube (G-tube) called a low-profile button G-tube. This type of tube is placed surgically in the operating room and creates a direct tract to the stomach, through which nutrition and medications can be administered. Most tubes have a water-filled balloon which helps keep the tube securely in place in the stomach.

How is a G-tube put in place?

A G-tube can be surgically placed, or it can be a percutaneous radiographic G-tube. Your child's doctor will talk to you about — and explain — the type of procedure that's best for your child.

Surgically placed tube

If your child has a surgically placed tube, a pediatric surgeon will do the placement while your child is in the operating room. The surgeon will make an incision or laparoscopic incisions in the belly area, then make an opening into the stomach. She'll place the tube through the belly opening and into the stomach, then stitch the tube in place. A primary placed button may be used, or a temporary tube which requires a Hollister dressing, until the tube is changed.

Children who need other surgery will have their tube placed during that surgery.

Percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) tube

A radiologist usually performs this type of tube placement in the interventional radiology department while your child is asleep. A PEG tube is placed into the stomach through an incision in the abdomen. The radiologist threads the tube through your child's mouth, down the esophagus, and into the stomach. The tube will exit the stomach through the abdominal incision and be stitched in place.

Sometimes, a part of the liver or bowel is on top of the stomach. In this case, a surgeon would need to place the tube while your child is in the operating room. The radiologist will decide which procedure is safest for your child.

Reviewed by: Surgical Advanced Practice Nurses
Date: November 2008

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