Bedside placement of small bowel feeding tubes in hospitalized patients: A new role for the dietitian

Gail Cresci, Robert Martindale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Objective: The benefits of enteral nutrition when compared with parenteral nutrition are well established. However, provision of enteral nutrition may not occur for several reasons, including lack of optimal feeding access. Gastric feeding is easier to initiate, but many hospitalized patients are intolerant to gastric feeding, although they can tolerate small bowel feeding. Many institutions rely on costly methods for placing small bowel feeding tubes. Our goal was to evaluate the effectiveness of a hospital-developed protocol for bedside-blind placement of postpyloric feeding tubes. Methods: The Surgical Nutrition Service established a protocol for bedside placement of small bowel feeding tubes. The protocol uses a 10- or 12-French, 110-cm stylet containing the feeding tube; 10 mg of intravenous metoclopramide; gradual tube advancement followed by air injection and auscultation; and an abdominal radiograph for tube position confirmation. In a prospective manner, consults received by the surgical nutrition dietitian for feeding tube placements were followed consecutively for a 10-mo period. The registered dietitian recorded the number of radiograph examinations, the final tube position, and the time it took to achieve tube placement. Results: Because all consults were included, feeding tube placements occurred in surgical and medical patients in the intensive care unit and on the ward. Of the 135 tube placements performed, 129 (95%) were successfully placed postpylorically, with 84% (114 of 135) placed at or beyond D3. Average time for tube placement was 28 min (10 to 90 min). One radiograph was required for 92% of the placements; eight of 135 (6%) required two radiographs. No acute complications were associated with the tube placements. Conclusions: Hospitalized patients can receive timely enteral feeding with a cost-effective feeding tube placement protocol. The protocol is easy to implement and can be taught to appropriate medical team members through proper training and certification.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)843-846
Number of pages4
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Dietitian
  • Enteral access
  • Enteral nutrition
  • Tube feeding

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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