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Medscape J Med. 2008 Jun 17;10(6):142.

Complications of and controversies associated with percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy: report of a case and literature review.

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Dr. Henry D. Janowitz Division of Gastroenterology, Department of Medicine, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY, USA.



Percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) is one of the most commonly performed gastrointestinal procedures, despite absence of benefit in many patients and risks associated with the procedure. Increased education of primary care physicians about the shortcomings of PEG may allow for better selection of patients to be referred for PEG placement.


We performed a comprehensive literature review by searching PUBMED using the search headings percutaneous enteral gastrostomy, PEG, complications, dementia, stroke, dysphagia, malnutrition, and complications. We identified English language articles from 1980 onward. The highest quality data were considered to be randomized controlled trials although given the paucity of trials in this area, we used all of the various types of literature.


We based the major conclusions of this review, where possible, on the most robust literature, namely, controlled trials. However, the majority of the available literature in this field is based on case series. We attempted to maximize the use of larger case series with longer term follow-up. Case reports were used only to report on rare complications where no other literature was available.


Despite more than 30 years of experience with PEG, numerous questions remain regarding the utility of nutrition support in many of the clinical scenarios in which PEG placement is contemplated. There is a multitude of evidence that artificial nutrition does not improve outcome or quality of life in patients with dementia who have decreased oral intake. It is likely that ethical, moral, religious, and legal considerations of family members and caregivers play a role in the decision to place a PEG in a patient with dementia despite the medical evidence demonstrating lack of benefit.

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