Learning About a Nasogastric (NG) Tube

What is a nasogastric (NG) tube?

A nasogastric (NG) tube is a long, flexible plastic tube inserted into a person's nose and threaded into the stomach. An NG tube may be used for treatments such as sucking excess fluids out of the stomach and delivering medicines.

It also can deliver fluid that contains nutrients directly into the stomach. This is called tube feeding.

How do you get an NG tube?

An NG tube is lubricated so it slides more easily. Then it's placed through the nose, down the throat and the esophagus, and into the stomach. The esophagus connects the throat to the stomach. The person is asked to swallow, if able, to help the tube go down and get into the right place.

When an NG tube is inserted, the person may have an X-ray taken to see if the tube is in the right place. Getting an NG tube usually isn't painful, but it may feel uncomfortable.

What is an NG tube used for?

An NG tube can be used for different kinds of treatments. For example, it may be used to:

  • Release pressure from the bowel if there is a blockage in the intestine.
  • Deliver charcoal or other medicines into your body to treat poisoning.
  • Pump the stomach clean in cases of poisoning.
  • Diagnose and treat bleeding in the stomach.
  • Deliver nutrients for tube feeding.

Is it an emergency?

If you or someone in your care has chest pains, difficulty breathing, or severe bleeding, it could be a life-threatening emergency. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately.
If you are concerned about a possible poisoning or exposure to a toxic substance, call Poison Control now at 1-800-567-8911.

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