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Gastrostomy: Permanent and Temporary


This is surgery to place a tube through the abdomen and into the stomach. Gastrostomy can be done as:

Reasons for Procedure    TOP

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

Gastric Tube

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Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Possible Complications    TOP

Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:

  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • 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
  • Diarrhea

Complications are more common in older adults. Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:

Be sure to discuss these risks with your doctor before the surgery.

What to Expect    TOP

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    TOP

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    TOP

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?    TOP

At least 1 hour

How Much Will It Hurt?    TOP

You will have pain after the surgery. Ask your doctor about medication to help with the pain.

Average Hospital Stay    TOP

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.

Post-procedure Care    TOP

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    TOP

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.


American College of Gastroenterology
American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy


Canadian Association of Gastroenterology


Gastrostomy tube (g-tube). Kids Health—Nemours Foundation website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated January 2018. Accessed January 10, 2018.
Gastrostomy tube (g-tube) home care. Cincinnati Children's website. Available at: Updated July 2016. Accessed January 10, 2018.
Last reviewed December 2017 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Daus Mahnke, MD
Last Updated: 12/20/2014

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