Nasal tubes are non-surgical and temporary tubes placed through the nose and into the stomach or intestine. The choice between nasogastric (NG), nasoduodenal (ND), and nasojejunal (NJ) tubes depends on whether your child can tolerate feeding into the stomach or not.

NG-tubes

NG-tubes enter the body through the nose and run down the esophagus into the stomach.

ND- or NJ-tubes

ND-tubes are similar to NG-tubes, but they go through the stomach and end in the first portion of the small intestine (duodenum). NJ-tubes extend even further to the second portion of the small intestine (jejunum). Bypassing the stomach can be beneficial for those whose stomachs don’t empty well, who have chronic vomiting, or who inhale or aspirate stomach contents into the lungs.

Tips for Little Hands and Nasal Tubes

Babies and small children will often try to pull their nasal tubes out. At night, try putting mittens or socks on your child’s hands to keep him/her from pulling the tube out. You can tape the nasal tube (or feeding bag tubing) down the back of the shirt during the day to keep it out of the child’s way. At night, you may want to tape it further down the pajamas. If the pajamas are two-piece, you can run tubing inside the pajama leg to keep children from tangling.

Nasal Tube Considerations

  • They are non-surgical and temporary.
  • They are a good way to quickly get infants and children the nutritional benefits of tube feeding.
  • They can be helpful in determining if longer-term tube feeding will be beneficial.
  • Nasal tubes need to be taped to the cheek, which can be irritating to some children.
  • Little hands often succeed in pulling nasal tubes out. Make sure you discuss accidental removal with your doctor and have a replacement plan, because it will happen.
  • You may see increased nasal congestion, especially in infants.
  • Nasal tubes can make reflux, gagging, and oral aversions worse.
  • Nasal tubes can clog easily because they are very narrow. This is unlikely to happen with regular feeding, but may happen with medications that aren’t in liquid form. If your child has any medications that need to be crushed, discuss with your doctors if there is a liquid, compounded, or dissolvable form that can be used.
  • Some hospitals do not let infants or children go home with nasal tubes. Discuss this with your doctor in advance (if possible).
  • Nasal tubes are intended for short-term use. They need to be changed every 3 days to 4 weeks, depending on the type of tube. If longer-term tube feeding is needed, it may be time to discuss a G-tube (gastrostomy tube) that is placed directly into the stomach.
  • Nasal tubes are highly visible since they are taped to the face. They may draw unwanted attention because few people know what they are. They may also be confused with oxygen, since that is the reference point most people have when they see a tube near the nose.

Questions to Ask

  • Will it be an NG-, ND-, or NJ-tube?
  • Will we leave the hospital with this tube?
  • What should I do if the tube is pulled out?
  • How long will this tube be in place?
  • How often do we need to replace it?
  • How do we replace it?
  • At what point do we need to consider a more permanent tube, such as a G-tube?
  • Do I need to check placement before feeding or giving medication?
  • How do I check the placement?

Life at Home with a Nasal Tube

Parents and caregivers can learn how to place, or “drop,” an NG-tube at home. You will need to be taught by a medical professional, because the correct placement is very important. Learning to replace the tube yourself makes it a lot easier to do routine changes and replace a tube that gets pulled out at home. You will need to check the placement of the nasal tube after you insert it. It is a good idea to confirm placement before the start of each feed and if your child vomits forcefully. You can get more information on NG tube placement, including videos, on our NG Tube Placement and Verification page.

Taping the tube properly to the face can also make a world of difference. Learn how on our Taping Nasal Tubes page.

NJ-tubes, and some ND-tubes, need to be placed by a radiologist with X-ray guidance to ensure correct placement. They cannot be changed at home.