Initial and Ongoing Verification of Feeding Tube Placement in Adults

Scope and Impact of the Problem

Although often considered an innocuous procedure, blind placement of a feeding tube can cause serious and even fatal complications.1;2 3 While styleted small-bore tubes are most often associated with complications, large-bore unstyleted tubes are not without risk.1;4-6 In a review of over 2,000 feeding tube insertions, investigations found that nasogastric feeding tubes were malpositioned in 1.3 to 3.2 percent7,8 of all insertions; further, 28 percent of the malpositions resulted in pneumonia or pneumothorax.7 Although rare, feeding tubes may be malpositioned in the brain, especially in patients with a traumatic defect.4;11-13 Risk for aspiration is greatly increased when a feeding tube's ports end in the esophagus.1;9

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