Today’s feeding tube awareness is something that I definitely didn’t know before Ivy. There are many different types of feeding tubes! They are named based on where they enter the body and where the other end of the tube rests. NG/NJ tubes enter the body through the nose. G/GJ tubes enter the body right at the stomach. I just recently learned that there are also orogastric tubes which enter the body through the mouth! The difference between the G and the J is where the tube stops in the body. G tubes stop in the stomach. Anything put through them will go directly to the stomach. J tubes bypass the stomach and rest in the Jejunum which is a part of the small intestine. Ivy has had three types of feeding tubes in her life.
*NJ (nasojejunal) – went through her nose, bypassed her stomach, and ended in her small intestine. She had this for several weeks while we waited for her to be healthy enough for her surgery. We chose to do an NJ instead of an NG because her reflux was so intense and a nasal tube keeps the esophagus constantly open to the acid of the stomach.
*GJ (gastrostomy-jejunostomy) – a pediatric surgeon placed this tube during her diaphragmatic hernia surgery by making a small incision in her lower left abdomen through to her stomach. The tube was threaded through the stomach and into the intestine. She had her GJ tube for 8 months. Throughout the months she had both an NJ and GJ tube, she had to be on continuous feeds. You can’t put a whole bottle’s worth of milk into the intestine because it isn’t meant to stretch like the stomach is. Instead of getting a feed every few hours, she was hooked up to a pump and a bag of milk for 20 hours a day.
*G (gastrostomy) – When we were finally able to get her reflux under better control, we worked to transition her continuous feeds to bolus feeds in her stomach. By the end of summer, she was able to handle getting 5 feeds a day through the G (stomach) portion of her GJ tube, so we were able to replace the GJ tube with a G tube. The surgeon was able to do that in his office and show me how to place a new G tube so that I could do that at home every three months. It still goes in the same place as the GJ tube did, but it is a little bit smaller and closer to the body. Ivy will keep her G tube until she is able to eat and drink enough by mouth to continue to grow and thrive.
If you have a tubie kiddo or you are a tubie yourself, what kind of tube do you have experience with?