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Tube Feeding

What is tube feeding?

Tube feeding, also known as enteral nutrition, is a therapy that uses a flexible feeding tube to supply people with nutrients. A liquid form of food is passed through the tube directly into the small intestines or stomach. Tube feeding is often used for patients with a functioning digestive system that cannot chew or swallow food. Tube feeding may also be used for patients who require nutrients but do not have an appetite.

Tubes can be placed into the nose or surgically placed. When inserted into the nose, the tube passes through the throat into the small intestine or the stomach. For patients who require long-term tube feeding, doctors may surgically insert the tube directly into their small intestine or stomach.

Patients may receive a feeding tube at home, in the hospital, or at nursing facilities.

Why is tube feeding important in healthcare?

Tube feeding is important in healthcare because it can supply life-sustaining nutrients to patients who have illnesses or conditions that limit their ability to consume food.

Common conditions where patients may need tube feeding include strokes, paralysis, gastrointestinal challenges, and cancers affecting the head and the neck. Having a nutrient supply is essential for the body to heal and manage such conditions.

Tube feeding can also be used to provide comfort to patients receiving end-of-life care.