Coping with Complications

Occasionally some people can experience feeding tube complications when adjusting to tube feeding. You can prevent a number of these by following the guidelines below. If you, or the one you care for, experiences any of the following complications please contact your dietitian, nurse, or any other member of your healthcare team.

Blocked feeding tube

To prevent a blocked feeding tube, make sure to flush the tube before and after each feeding session or medication. You should use either sterile or cooled boiled water with a 20ml (minimum) syringe to minimise pressure and volume. Your dietitian will tell you how much water you need for adequate flushing.

However, if the gastrostomy or jejunostomy tube does become blocked you can use the advice below.

  • Using a gentle pull and push technique flush the tube with a syringe using lukewarm water or soda water, the type and volume are recommended by your healthcare team. Do not use acidic solutions like fruit juices or cola, as this could curdle the feed and block the tube further.
  • If none of these suggestions work please contact your dietitian/nurse as your tube may need replacing. You should never force too much pressure or liquid through the tube as this could cause the tube to rupture.

If you have a blocked NG tube you should not try to unblock it yourself. Instead seek help immediately from a member of your healthcare team.

Feeding tube falls out

If the NG tube comes out, you will need to replace it. But only if you have been fully trained how to do this by the healthcare team. If not, you'll need to go to hospital to have the tube replaced by a healthcare professional. If it is an NJ tube, do not try to replace it yourself. It's a good idea to contact the hospital beforehand to avoid waiting a long time in Accident and Emergency.

If the PEG, balloon retained gastrostomy, button or JEJ tube accidentally comes out, put a dressing over the site to avoid the stoma closing up (as it can close over within a few hours). Go as quickly as possible to the hospital's Accident and Emergency.

Take caution

Take particular caution, stop tube feeding at once and seek urgent medical advice if you experience any of the following:

  • Leaks of fluid around the tube
  • Pain on feeding
  • New bleeding.

This website should be used for information purposes only for UK patients and carers of patients who are tube feeding. This information provided does not replace the advice and supervision of a doctor, dietitian, or any other member of the healthcare team. It’s important to follow the advice given to you by your healthcare professional.