Nutrition Services for adults

Jejunostomy JEJ tube - before surgery

This webpage is intended to give adult patients information about the insertion of a surgical jejunostomy (JEJ) tube and aims to answer any questions you may have.

This is often referred to as a ‘jejunal’ or ‘JEJ’ tube.


What is a Jejunostomy tube?

Jejunostomy tube image 

A jejunostomy (JEJ) tube is a thin tube which is placed during surgery into your jejunum (small bowel). This tube allows you to be given enough nourishment and fluids until you are able to eat and drink normally again.

Some medicines can also be given through the JEJ. The JEJ can be kept in for a short or long time depending on your needs.

Why do you need to have a JEJ tube?

Your doctors want you to have a JEJ tube as they expect that you may not be able to get enough nourishment from eating as you normally would. This may be because you are too unwell and unable to do so or it may be because your doctors do not think that it will be safe for you to eat straight away after your surgery.

The JEJ tube will provide a way for nourishment to be given to you in the form of liquid food. Your dietician will discuss the type and amount of feed you will need. Having feeds this way is known as ‘enteral feeding’.

Jejunostomy feeding tube

 Often, people can eat as well as having JEJ feeds. This will depend on what

your feeding difficulties are. Your doctor and dietitian will advise you on this.

How is a JEJ tube inserted and how long will I be in hospital?

  • A JEJ tube is inserted by your surgeon in the operating theatre when you are under anaesthetic
  • The JEJ tube is passed through the skin and abdomen and into your jejunum (small bowel)
  • After the procedure the area around the JEJ tube may be uncomfortable. If you do have any pain or discomfort around the area following insertion, then your nurse will give you some pain killers to help with this.
  • If your doctor thinks you are well enough and able to, you may be able to feed at home using the JEJ tube. You will need to stay in hospital for a few days so that you can learn how to look after and use the JEJ tube.

Risks, benefits and effects on quality of life

As each patient is different, these will be discussed with you by your doctor before the decision to have the JEJ tube.

What to do if you have you any questions?

If you have any questions these can be answered by the nurse, dietitian or doctor on the ward. After you go home, these can be answered by your community nurse, community dietician or GP. It is sometimes a good idea to write your questions down.

Before you are discharged home you will be given an aftercare booklet and the contact numbers needed will be included in there.

The Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) can offer on-the-spot advice and information about the NHS.

Useful websites

For further information about health conditions and treatment options, you may wish to have a look at the NHS Choices website. On this website there is an information prescription generator which brings together a wealth of approved patient information from the NHS and charity partners which you may find helpful.

Leaflet to download

You can also download a PDF version of the information on this page.pdf

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