Nutrition Services for adults

Nasogastric or NG tube - before treatment

This webpage provides information about the insertion of a nasogastric (NG) tube.

What is a NG tube?

A nasogastric (NG) tube is a thin tube which goes into your nose and down into your stomach. They come in different lengths and thickness and can be kept in short or long term depending on your needs.

Why do you need to have a NG tube?

Some people are not able to get enough nourishment from eating normally. This may be because they are too unwell and unable to do so or it may be because they have specific swallowing difficulties which prevent them from eating.

The NG tube will provide a way for nourishment to be given 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’. Often, people can eat as well as having NG feeds. This will depend on what your feeding difficulties are.

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

  • A NG tube is usually inserted by a nurse or doctor on the ward when you are awake. This can be by your bedside or in a side room for more privacy.
  • The NG tube is passed into the nose through either nostril, down the back of the nose, into the oesophagus and then into the stomach. 
  • The passing of a NG should not be painful. If safe to do so the nurse or doctor will ask you to drink some water as the tube is inserted to enable the tube to be swallowed more easily.

Nasogastric tube illustration

  • If your doctor thinks you are well enough and able to, you may be able to feed at home using the NG tube. You will need to stay in hospital for a few days however so that you can learn how to look after and use the NG tube.

Risks, benefits and effects on quality of life

As each patient is different, these will be discussed with your doctor before the deciding to have the NG tube.

What to do if you have you any questions?

If you have any questions, these can be answered by the nurse 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.

Leaflet to download

You can download a pdf version of the information on this page as a leaflet.pdf

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