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Understanding PEG Feeding

Understanding PEG Feeding

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PEG stands for Percutaneous Endoscopic Gastrostomy. If your child is “PEG fed” or your health care team are talking to you about PEG feeding as an option for your child, this article will provide you with some of the basic information you’ll want to know.

What is a PEG?

“PEG” refers to a procedure where a feeding tube is placed through the abdominal wall and into the stomach.

  • Percutaneous means “through the skin”
  • Endoscopic refers to the procedure being carried out using an endoscope which is a long flexible tube with a lens at one end and a video camera at the other
  • Gastrostomy means making an opening into the stomach

PEG allows for nutrients and fluids to be delivered directly into the stomach. The common term used is “PEG fed” to refer to a person who receives nutrition in this way.

What does the procedure involve?

The procedure is carried out by a doctor. The doctor will place a flexible telescope called an endoscope down the person’s throat and into their stomach to guide them while they insert the feeding tube.

To insert the tube, a small cut is made through the skin of the upper abdomen and into the stomach. This allows for the secure feeding tube to be placed directly into the stomach.

The procedure usually takes around 20 minutes and in most circumstances, it is performed under sedation and local anesthesia.

PEG feeding tubes have a small plastic disc inside the stomach and another small disc that sits on top of the skin where the tube is inserted. These discs prevent the tube coming out or the whole tube ending up in the stomach.

Are there any complications associated with the procedure?

As with all surgical procedures, complications can occur. The most common risk associated with the PEG procedure is the risk of infection from the procedure itself and later if the area where the tube is inserted isn’t cared for correctly. It is common for intravenous antibiotics to be administered at the time of the procedure to reduce the risk of infection. Then, the appropriate care will help to reduce the risk of infection where the tube is inserted, more on this below. Other risks can include allergic reaction to sedation or local anesthetic, bleeding, blockages (of the tube) and damage to teeth from the endoscope when they are inserting the tube initially via the mouth.

If you are having conversations with your child’s health team about the PEG procedure, they will talk you through the immediate and ongoing risks and how to reduce these.

Why are PEGs used to treat children?

If your child has difficulty with eating or digesting their food, has a swallowing and choking risk, a poor appetite or any other challenges that make it difficult for their bodies to get the nutrition that they need, their health team may recommend PEG feeding.

PEGs enable for specialised liquid nutrition and fluids to be provided directly into your child’s stomach.

How do I care for my child’s PEG tube?

Immediately following the procedure, a dressing will be placed on the PEG site. This will be removed after a day or two and after the PEG site must be kept clean and dry. The Xavier health care team can help by providing either direct care or advice and support so that you can manage this in the longer term.

How long will my child be PEG fed?

The amount of time that your child should be PEG fed will depend on their unique situation and the best individualised treatment to ensure that they are getting the nutrition they need. Some children will have PEG tubes in the short term while others will have them for much longer or ongoing periods.

Are there other ways to tube feed?

Yes. Nasogastric tubes which pass through a person’s nose and down into their stomach are another way that nutrition can be provided. Your health team will discuss with you whether a nasogastric tube or PEG tube will suit your child better. For tube feeding over a longer period of time, PEG tubes can be more comfortable and easier to use.

Find out more

Our health care team are here to support you to care for your child’s PEG tube. If you’d like to find out more about how we can help, visit our nursing page, call 1800 XAVIER or email intake@xavier.org.au