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Proc Nutr Soc. 2011 Aug;70(3):293-8. doi: 10.1017/S002966511100053X.

Gastrostomy tube feeding in adults: the risks, benefits and alternatives.

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Buckinghamshire Healthcare Trust, Wycombe General Hospital, Queen Alexandra Road, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire HP11 2TT, UK.


Enteral feeding (or 'tube feeding') is a very common inpatient intervention to maintain nutritional status where the oral route is inadequate, unsafe or inaccessible. A proportion of patients will need to continue tube feeding in the community after their admission and will require a gastrostomy tube. Although gastrostomy insertion is relatively straightforward, it is not without complications in an often frail and vulnerable group of patients and a multidisciplinary approach is necessary to ensure that the procedure is appropriate. Some patients are better managed with careful assisted hand feeding or nasogastric tubes. Particular care needs to be taken in deciding whether patients with dementia should have a gastrostomy in view of data suggesting that this group of patients have a particularly poor prognosis after the procedure. Decisions regarding the provision of enteral nutrition at the end of life or where patients are not competent to make an informed judgement are particularly challenging and need to be made on a case-by-case basis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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