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Nutr Clin Pract. 2018 Apr;33(2):274-280. doi: 10.1002/ncp.10072. Epub 2018 Mar 12.

Small-Bowel Feeding Tube Placement at Bedside: Electronic Medical Device Placement and X-Ray Agreement.

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Nutrition Services Department at Baylor University Medical Center, Dallas, Texas, USA.
Department of Clinical Nutrition, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas, USA.



The use of an electromagnetic placement device (EMPD) can allow trained clinicians to safely perform small-bowel feeding tube (SBFT) placement at the bedside. Before initiation of enteral nutrition, most facilities require a radiology confirmation of tube placement. Requirement of X-ray confirmation delays the start of nutrition and leads to increased costs and utilization of resources. The purpose of this study was to determine the rate of agreement between clinician interpretation of SBFT placement using the EMPD images and X-ray confirmation on tip of SBFT placement.


This single-center, retrospective, observational study used data completed by registered dietitians or registered nurses after SBFT placement and compared it with radiology reports in the electronic health record. All tube placements were performed using the EMPD and were determined to be in 1 of 4 locations: stomach, duodenum, at the ligament of Trietz, or not specified within the small bowel.


A total of 280 tube placements were analyzed. When differentiating between stomach and small bowel, the rate of agreement using a κ statistic was substantial agreement (κ = 0.67) and when determining tip-of-tube location within the small bowel excluding not specified locations, there was almost perfect agreement with a κ = 0.93 and n = 84.


These findings suggest that EMPD images provide substantial agreement with X-ray confirmation and almost perfect agreement when the tip of the tube is within the small bowel. This indicates that the EMPD could be used without X-ray confirmation.


enteral nutrition; feeding tube placement; nutritional support; patient safety; practice guidelines; x-rays

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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