How to Insert a Nasogastric Tube

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Nasogastric tubes are inserted for a variety of reasons including administration of tube feeds and medications or suction/decompression of the stomach.  These are mainly inserted at the bedside by a nurse, but can also be inserted under fluoroscopy for more complicated bowel issues. This can be somewhat traumatic the first time that you perform an insertion.  You will meet some resistance when you reach the back of the nasal cavity.  It will take some practice to insert an NG tube quickly...which I'm sure the patient's will appreciate! There is a video of an insertion shown below

NG Tube Placement Tips:

  1. Have the patient swallow as the NG tube passes through the back of the oral cavity towards the stomach.
  2. Have the patient put their chin to their chest as you are inserting the tube.
  3. If you are having a difficult time with the tubing coiling in the patient's mouth instead of going down the esophagus, put the ng tube in ice for 15 minutes and then try again. It makes the tubing stiffer and helps it to go down the esophagus..

The most important thing to do after placing an NG tube is making sure that it is actually placed in the stomach.  The gold standard at our hospital (meaning you HAVE to do this before administering anything through the NG) is getting a chest x-ray confirmation of placement. Administering medications or tube feeds into a patient's lungs could be fatal so be sure that you have correct placement! 

AuthorCourtney Tracy