PEG stands for percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy, a procedure in which a flexible feeding tube is placed through the abdominal wall and into the stomach. PEG allows nutrition, fluids and/or medications to be put directly into the stomach, bypassing the mouth and esophagus. Patients who have difficulty swallowing, problems with their appetite or an inability to take adequate nutrition through the mouth can benefit from feeding tube placement. Specialized liquid nutrition, as well as fluids, are given through the PEG tube.
Dr. Heaton uses a lighted flexible scope called an endoscope to guide the creation of a small opening through the skin of the upper abdomen and directly into the stomach. This procedure allows the doctor to place and secure a feeding tube into the stomach. Patients generally receive an intravenous sedative and local anesthesia, and an antibiotic is given by vein prior to the procedure. Patients can usually go home the day of the procedure.
A dressing will be placed on the PEG site following the procedure. This dressing is usually removed after one or two days. After that you should clean the site once a day with diluted soap and water and keep the site dry between cleansings. No special dressing or covering is needed.
Complications can occur with the feeding tube placement. Possible complications include pain at the PEG site, leakage of stomach contents around the tube site, and dislodgment or malfunction of the tube. Possible complications include infection of the PEG site, aspiration (inhalation of gastric contents into the lungs), bleeding and perforation (an unwanted hole in the bowel wall).
PEG tubes can last for months or years. However, because they can break down or become clogged over extended periods of time, they might need to be replaced. Your doctor can easily remove or replace a tube without sedatives or anesthesia, although your doctor might opt to use sedation and endoscopy in some cases. Your doctor will remove the tube using firm traction and will either insert a new tube or let the opening close if no replacement is needed. PEG sites close quickly once the tube is removed, so accidental dislodgment requires immediate attention.