Ask us your questions about feeding tube clogs.
Helpful tips on this subject can also be found below or at at:
– Nurse Jayne’s helper Pete Daniel with Kimberly-Clark
Q: How do I prevent the tube from becoming clogged?
Proper tube flushing is the best way to avoid clogging the MIC * lush the tube with water every 4-6 hours during continuous feeding, before and after every intermittent or bolus feeding, or at least every 8 hours if the tube is not being used. The MIC* feeding tube should also be flushed before and after administration of medications and after checking for stomach residuals. Medications should be given in liquid form. If a medication is only available in tablets or capsules, make sure it can be crushed and mixed with water. Medication should not be mixed with formula. Never crush enteric-coated medication. Before and after giving medication, the port should be flushed with water. Medications should not be administered through the jejunal port of jejunal tubes as this may clog the tube lumen. When flushing a tube, use water and a 30cc-60cc catheter tip syringe. Do not use smaller sizes as this can increase pressure on the tube and potentially rupture the tube. The amount of water used to flush the tube will depend on the individual’s needs, clinical condition and type of tube, but the average volume ranges from 10-50 ml for adults, and 3-10 ml for children. Do not use excessive force to flush the tube as this can perforate the tube and can cause injury to the gastrointestinal tract.
Q: How do I unclog a tube?
If a tube does become clogged:
• Attach an extension set to the clogged port (gastric or jejunal) of the MIC* feeding tube. Place a catheter tip syringe filled with warm water into the extension set and gently pull back on then depress the plunger to dislodge the clog.
• If the clog remains, repeat the previous step. Gentle suction alternating with syringe pressure will relieve most obstructions.
• If this fails, consult your clinician and consider trying a solution of pancreatic enzymes and sodium bicarbonate instilled through a catheter tip syringe. Do not use cranberry juice, cola drinks, meat tenderizer or chymotrypsin, as these can actually cause clogs or create adverse reactions in some cases. Diet sodas (non-cola) and carbonated or seltzer water may prove successful in removing some clogs.
• If the clog is stubborn and cannot be removed, the tube will have to be replaced.
NOTE: The short length of the MIC* Gastric Feeding Tubes make them quite clog resistant. The MIC* Jejunal Feeding Tubes must be monitored carefully to prevent clogging.