The NG tube (nasogastric)

Years ago when I was hospitalised with my first ever flare of ulcerative colitis I was constantly being sick. The pain was awful and that was the culprit of the vomiting. The sickness got so bad that I was threatened with the dreaded NG tube.

Even at that age (20) I knew I wouldn’t like that at all and refused profusely after hearing another patient gagging and spluttering behind the curtain when having theirs put in, they couldn’t do it. I know a lot of people are scared of having this done, it seems very alien and frightening.

I had the NG tube fitted whilst I was under general anaesthic at the time of my stoma surgery, so I was spared the spluttering and gagging ( and so were the doctors). I remember waking up in the high dependency unit feeling like I had been run over by a train. The worst thing for me initially was the NG tube, it gave me such a sore throat and when I tried to speak it moved a bit in my throat and was such a weird sensation. They used to attach a see through bag to the end and you could see the bile etc collecting into it, that was enough to make anyone feel sick. I was so happy when they finally said I could have it removed, the nurse told me to take a deep breath in then breathe out slowly while she pulled it out, this wasn’t overly pleasant but was over with fairly quickly.

I was in hospital quite a few weeks and was still very malnourished, I was not eating well at all because of the pelvic infection and had lost over two stone. I wasn’t surprised when my dietician said I should really consider a feeding tube to help me get the goodness and calories I needed. I said no a few times because I was scared but also felt very embarrassed when I think of all the young children going through this. I can guarantee that they are much braver than the likes of me.

A few days later my stoma nurse came to see me, I always got on very well with her so when she said it would be in my very best interests to have the feeding tube. I was feeling brave so said yes but only if they could get someone there and then before I changed my mind. These tubes are slightly narrower than the ones for sickness but to me they still looked like a hose pipe. I had some water next to me and when the doctor started to insert the tube I just drank and drank. All was going swimmingly until I ran out of water. I panicked, grabbed the tube and pulled it out. Doh

The doctor had almost finished too , oops. I said can we try again and I got a bigger drink to gulp down. This time it worked, I only gagged a very small amount when the tube was going past a certain known spot, this is called the oropharynx. They then send you for an xray to check it is in the right place as they can then remove the guide wire that is running through the NG tube.


This pic is the feeding tube, the top pic is the one I had during surgery. There are other ways to feed patients , intravenously is one that is used a lot for IBD. It is called a PICC line ( peripherally inserted central catheter) and tends to be used when someone needs help with meds or feeding over a long period of time.


Before they hooked me up to “dinner” the tube was flushed through, I was fed throughout the night and was fascinated when the fluid followed the tube and down into my nose, it was quite cold when in went through the throat, very strange.  I was fed this way every night for a few weeks until one morning I felt unwell and was sick. The tube came up into my mouth, I shouted the nurse who told me not to panic and to pull the tube out. I was flailing about trying to pull it out through my mouth and of course it wouldn’t come out because it was taped to my nose. I realised and pulled it out through my nose. Phew I wouldn’t want to repeat that in a hurry.

I was lucky that I didn’t need to have it again, I was reprieved. I made sure they saw me eating as much as I could ( this wasn’t much but they said I was getting enough now to put some weight back on.)

All I can say is that if I can do it, anyone can.


4 Replies to “The NG tube (nasogastric)”

  1. Love hearing this from you Clare it makes me understand what you went through and it’s an inspiration so if I feel underpar I think of you. Also how do you remember all the technical details I never would. Xxx

  2. Every time I have had a ng tube it has made me vomit more than goes in the bag. I now refuse and have a Port for feeding

  3. Good old days… Had it done a few times.. Didn’t like the feeling when it went in… Just gulped and gulped water

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