Feeding Tubes & Nutritional Support for GI Diseases
Some patients with digestive diseases need nutritional support on a short-term, long-term or permanent basis. Experienced gastroenterologists at Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin specialize in providing nutritional support to meet a variety of needs. The type of support provided is based on the functioning of the patient’s digestive tract, underlying disease and other factors.
Enteral nutrition is provided when the gastrointestinal tract is functioning, but a person needs nutritional support for various reasons, such as a swallowing problem. Enteral nutrition provides food through a tube placed in the nose, stomach or small intestine, via a minimally invasive procedure. A formula containing essential nutrients is infused into the gut through the tubes.
- Different types of feeding tubes may be used to provide enteral nutrition:
- Nasogastric tube (NG-tube) — a tube placed through the nose to the stomach or small intestine (for short-term feeding needs)
- Gastrostomy (G-tube) — a tube placed through the skin into the stomach (for long-term feeding needs)
- Jejunostomy (J-tube) — a tube placed through the skin into the small intestine (for long-term feeding needs)
Total Parenteral Nutrition (TPN)
Total parenteral nutrition (TPN) is provided when the gastrointestinal tract is not functioning and unable to absorb nutrients the body needs. This may be a result of surgery that shortens the bowel, Crohn’s disease (an inflammation of the bowel) or a blockage.
A catheter is placed into a vein, and a special nutrition solution is provided through the catheter (intravenous feeding). TPN may be done on a short-term basis to assist postoperative healing or long-term in patients whose bowels are permanently unable to absorb nutrients.
People who receive TPN at home are followed by a Medical College of Wisconsin gastroenterologist specially trained in nutritional support, a case manager, a social worker, a nurse and home healthcare providers.
Growth Hormone Therapy for Short Bowel Syndrome
Short bowel syndrome is a condition in which the small intestine is unable to absorb enough nutrition, requiring TPN. This may occur after surgical removal of part of the intestine, due to trauma or disease.
In certain cases, growth hormone therapy, an FDA approved treatment, may help to minimize the dependence on TPN. Growth hormone may optimize the bowel’s absorption of food. This may allow a person to switch to enteral nutrition or may allow a person to eat food again.