PEG stands for percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy, and a PEG tube involves the insertion of a flexible feeding tube through the abdomen and into your stomach. This allows nutrients, fluids and medication to be delivered directly to the stomach without first needing to traverse the mouth and esophagus. It can be extremely helpful for patients who are having difficulty swallowing or are bothered by other esophageal issues. Below, we take a closer look at the treatment and how the operation is performed.
Who Would Benefit From A PEG Tube?
As we mentioned in the intro, there are a number of people who would benefit from the insertion of a PEG tube. For example, patients who have esophageal issues that make it difficult to swallow safely or effectively, patients with health conditions that inhibit their ability to take food by mouth, and patients who are recovering from a stroke may all be ideal candidates for PEG tube insertion. Other conditions that may be aided by the insertion of a PEG tube include patients with:
- Eosinophilic Esophagitis
- Mouth or Esophageal Cancer
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
Any condition that makes it unsafe or ineffective to attempt to pass food through the esophagus may be treated by a PEG tube. So long as the stomach can still digest foods normally, a PEG tube may be considered.
How Is A PEG Tube Operation Completed?
After you’ve followed your preoperative instructions, you will be taken to an operation room and given a sedative and pain relievers. Local anesthesia will also be applied to the area of your belly where the tube will be placed. Your surgeon will then guide an endoscope, which is a thin flexible tube with a camera attached to the tip, through your mouth, down your esophagus and into your stomach. This will allow them to visualize the area and figure out the best location for the PEG tube.
Once position has been determined, the surgeon creates a very small opening through which the tube can be inserted. The tube will be placed into the stomach wall on one end and out of your abdomen through the incision on the other end. The surgeon will then work to secure the tube in place. In all, it only takes about 15-20 minutes to insert a PEG tube. It’s typically performed on an outpatient basis, and the patient can return home on the same day, so long as you have someone who is able to drive you home afterwards.
A small bandage will be placed on the PEG site after the procedure, but it’s usually removed after a day or two. After the dressing is removed, you’ll want to keep the site clean by washing and drying the area thoroughly each day. When it’s time to eat, specialized liquid nutrition and fluids will be administered through the PEG tube. Your surgeon will ensure you understand how to administer nutrition and liquids through the tube so that you or a caretaker can ensure you get all the nutrients you need each day.
PEG tubes can remain in place for months or even years, depending on the needs of the patient. If they regain the ability to swallow safely, the tube may be removed by the surgeon, and the removal procedure is even simpler than insertion, oftentimes occurring without the need for sedatives or anesthesia. You’ll also want to let your surgeon know if the tube becomes dislodged or clogged, because this can cause problems in a hurry if nutrients can no longer pass through the tube.
Contact Bhatti GI Specialists
So if you are having trouble swallowing or an upcoming procedure may make it difficult to get nutrients the standard way, know that a simple PEG tube insertion may be in your future. If you need the operation performed in the greater Twin Cities area, reach out to Dr. Bhatti and the team at Bhatti GI Consultants today.