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Gastroenterology. 1994 Jan;106(1):13-8.

Gastroesophageal reflux during gastrostomy feeding.

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Department of Medicine, Presbyterian Medical Center, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.



Aspiration pneumonia is one of the most serious complications of gastrostomy tube feeding, with a reported incidence of 10%-20% in nursing home patients. The aims of this prospective study were to examine lower esophageal sphincter (LES) pressure before and after placement of gastrostomy tubes and to examine the effects of rapid intragastric bolus and slow, continuous feeding on LES pressure.


Ten subjects were enrolled in the study. Basal LES pressure was measured before and after placement of gastrostomy tubes. Thereafter, LES pressure was measured for 15 minutes during rapid intragastric infusion of 250 mL of an enteral feeding formula and 100 mL water and continuous infusion of the enteral feeding formula at 80 mL/h. Scintigrams evaluating gastroesophageal reflux were obtained during each method of feeding.


Placement of gastrostomy tubes had no effect on basal LES pressure. Rapid intragastric bolus infusion led to a reduction in LES pressure to incompetent levels at 2.1 +/- 2.0 mm Hg (P < 0.001). Free gastroesophageal reflux to the sternal notch was shown by scintigraphy. Slow, continuous gastrostomy feedings did not alter LES pressure (P > 0.05) or show free gastroesophageal reflux by scintigraphy.


Gastroesophageal reflux and aspiration in patients fed via the gastrostomy tube may be caused by LES relaxation secondary to gastric distention caused by distention of the stomach.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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