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J Med Imaging Radiat Oncol. 2008 Oct;52(5):503-10. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1673.2008.02003.x.

Randomized study of percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy versus nasogastric tubes for enteral feeding in head and neck cancer patients treated with (chemo)radiation.

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  • 1Division of Radiation Oncology, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.


Percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) tubes have largely replaced nasogastric tubes (NGT) for nutritional support of patients with head and neck cancer undergoing curative (chemo)radiotherapy without any good scientific basis. A randomized trial was conducted to compare PEG tubes and NGT in terms of nutritional outcomes, complications, patient satisfaction and cost. The study was closed early because of poor accrual, predominantly due to patients' reluctance to be randomized. There were 33 patients eligible for analysis. Nutritional support with both tubes was good. There were no significant differences in overall complication rates, chest infection rates or in patients' assessment of their overall quality of life. The cost of a PEG tube was 10 times that of an NGT. The duration of use of PEG tubes was significantly longer, a median 139 days compared with a median 66 days for NGT. We found no evidence to support the routine use of PEG tubes over NGT in this patient group.

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