In this section
A nasogastric (nay-zo-gas-tric) tube (NGT) is a thin, soft tube that is passed through your child's nostril, down the back of their throat, through the oesophagus (food pipe) and into their stomach.
Inserting the tube is usually a short procedure, and the tube will go down easily if your child is relaxed. There are ways you can help your child to remain calm, including distraction and relaxation techniques.
Generally, a child will be given an NGT so that specially prepared liquid food or fluids can be passed down the tube. The reasons your child might need an NGT for feeding include:
Sometimes, an NGT may be used to empty a child's stomach contents, including stomach gases.
Even though having an NGT put in is a short procedure and does not hurt, it is not very pleasant. Paracetamol or other medicines for pain relief will not stop the discomfort. Knowing what will happen during the procedure will help make it easier for you and your child.
The following tips may help both you and your child manage the procedure better:
For more tips, see our fact sheet
Reducing your child's discomfort during procedures.
Once it has been inserted, the NGT is usually held in place by being gently taped to the side of your child's face, near the nostril.
The most important aspect of caring for an NGT at home is checking that it is in the correct position (i.e. sitting in the stomach) before you put anything down it. Your treating team will teach you how to do this.
How can I stop my baby from trying to pull the NGT out?
The NGT will be firmly secured with tape, to the side of your child's face, to reduce the risk of them pulling it out. It can be secured behind their neck so that it doesn't dangle in front of them. Occasionally, children will have mittens put on, so that they can't grab at the tube and risk
If my child needs to have an NGT for a long time, are there
any risks or side effects I should know about?
Some children with long-term NGTs can develop an aversion to eating food and drinking fluids orally. Your child can work with a speech therapist to relearn these skills and ensure safe, enjoyable eating and drinking.
Another side effect can be rash or irritation due to the tape holding the NGT in place. Talk to the medical or nursing staff if this happens. There are several things that can be done to avoid this rash or irritation, including the use of a steroid cream, using an adhesive remover
when removing the tape, and swapping the side the tape is on.
Developed by The Royal Children's Hospital General Paediatrics department. We acknowledge the input of RCH consumers and carers.
Reviewed May 2018.
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This information is intended to support, not replace, discussion with your doctor or healthcare professionals. The authors of these consumer health information handouts have made a considerable effort to ensure the information is accurate, up to date and easy to understand. The Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne accepts no responsibility for any inaccuracies, information perceived as misleading, or the success of any treatment regimen detailed in these handouts. Information contained in the handouts is updated regularly and therefore you should always check you are referring to the most recent version of the handout. The onus is on you, the user, to ensure that you have downloaded the most up-to-date version of a consumer health information handout.