5.1 Introduction

Learning Objectives

  • Identify the indications for NG tube insertion
  • Identify contraindications for NG tube insertion
  • Outline essential safety principles related to the insertion of an NG tube, including evidence-based placement verification
  • Outline nursing assessments and interventions related to the insertion of an NG tube
  • Use clinical judgment to prevent, assess, manage, and document complications related to NG tubes
  • Demonstrate the procedures for insertion and discontinuation of an NG tube
  • Describe client care considerations prior to and following NG insertion

Enteral tubes are tubes placed in the gastrointestinal tract for stomach decompression, as well as an alternate route for feeding and/or medication administration. Stomach decompression is a medical term that refers to removing stomach contents by using suctioning. Stomach decompression is commonly used after surgery or trauma to reduce pressure from the buildup of fluids and gas that cause pain, nausea, and vomiting that can lead to potential aspiration of stomach contents into the lungs.

Insertion and post-insertion care of enteral nasogastric feeding (NG) tubes are common procedures in the United States, with more than 1.2 million temporary nasogastric feeding tubes inserted annually.[1] Clients in acute care and community settings may have various types of enteral tubes to assist their recovery. Nurses are involved in the insertion, management, and removal of NG tubes, as well as the administration of feedings and medications through NG tubes. They must understand the manner in which these devices work, their purpose, and ways to prevent complications. Although inserting an NG tube is a commonly performed procedure, it can cause significant risk to the client if performed improperly.

Nursing responsibilities associated with caring for a client with an enteral tube include the following:

  • Assessing tube placement and patency
  • Assessing and cleansing the insertion site
  • Administering tube feeding
  • Administering medication via the enteral tube
  • Irrigating/flushing the tube
  • Managing gastric tube suctioning
  • Monitoring and responding to potential complications

This chapter will discuss indications and contraindications for NG tubes, review the anatomy and physiology related to NG tubes, outline techniques to verify NG tube placement, and discuss potential complications. Checklists for inserting and removing NG tubes are also provided.

Review the “Enteral Tube Management” and “Administration of Enteral Medications” chapters in the Open RN Nursing Skills book for additional information about various types of enteral tubes and related nursing responsibilities.[2]

  1. Bloom, L., & Seckel, M. A. (2022). Placement of nasogastric feeding tube and postinsertion care review. AACN Advanced Critical Care, 33(1), 68–84. https://doi.org/10.4037/aacnacc2022306
  2. This work is a derivative of Nursing Skills by Open RN and is licensed under CC BY 4.0


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Nursing Advanced Skills Copyright © by Chippewa Valley Technical College is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book