Gastrostomy is a surgical procedure for inserting a tube through the abdomen wall and into the stomach. The tube, called a "g-tube," is used for feeding or drainage.
Gastrostomy is performed because a patient temporarily or permanently needs to be fed directly through a tube in the stomach. Reasons for feeding by gastrostomy include birth defects of the mouth, esophagus, or stomach, and neuromuscular conditions that cause people to eat very slowly due to the shape of their mouths or a weakness affecting their chewing and swallowing muscles.
Gastrostomy is also performed to provide drainage for the stomach when it is necessary to bypass a longstanding obstruction of the stomach outlet into the small intestine. Obstructions may be caused by peptic ulcer scarring or a tumor.
In the United States, gastrostomies are more frequently performed on older persons. The procedure occurs most often in African-American populations.
Gastrostomy, also called gastrostomy tube (g-tube) insertion, is surgery performed to give an external opening into the stomach. Surgery is performed either when the patient is under general anesthesia—the patient feels as if he or she is in a deep sleep and has no awareness of what is happening—or under local anesthesia. With local anesthesia, the patient is awake, but the part of the body cut during the operation is numbed.
Fitting the g-tube usually requires a short surgical operation that lasts about 30 minutes. During the surgery, a hole (stoma) about the diameter of a small pencil is cut in the skin and into the stomach; the stomach is then carefully attached to the abdominal wall. The g-tube is then fitted into the stoma. It is a special tube held in place by a disc or a water-filled balloon that has a valve inside allowing food to enter, but nothing to come out. The hole can be made using two different methods. The first uses a tube called an endoscope that has a light at the end, which is inserted into the mouth and fed down
the gullet (esophagus) into the stomach. The light shines through the skin, showing the surgeon where to perform the incision. The other procedure does not use an endoscope. Instead, a small incision is made on the left side of the abdomen; an incision is then made through the stomach. A small flexible hollow tube, usually made of polyvinylchloride or rubber, is inserted into the stomach. The stomach is stitched closely around the tube, and the incision is closed.
The length of time the patient needs to remain in the hospital depends on the age of the patient and the patient's general health. In some cases, the hospital stay can be as short as one day, but often is longer. Normally, the stomach and abdomen heal in five to seven days.
The cost of the surgery varies, depending on the age and health of the patient. Younger patients are usually sicker and require more intensive, and thus more expensive, care.
Tish Davidson AM, Monique Laberge PhD, The Gale Group Inc., Gale, Detroit,