For individuals with conditions or diseases that severely affect digestion or absorption of nutrients, a Jejunostomy feeding tube can be a lifesaver. Jejunostomy feedings can give individuals energy, enabling them to return to their normal activities.
The jejunum is a part of the small intestine, just below the stomach. A Jejunostomy tube, also called a J-tube, is inserted into the jejunum through the abdomen. J-tubes are used to provide nutrients to those who cannot ingest properly.
How J-tubes work
The purpose of a J-tube is to bypass the stomach and allow nutrients to enter the intestinal tract directly. Liquid nutrition, made of blenderized food, or a commercial formula, flows through the tube. The tube also allows delivery of medications.
J-tubes are used for individuals with severe anorexia, pancreatic disease, malabsorption disorders, liver failure and metabolic stress. Comatose individuals and those who are not able to eat because of head or neck trauma, may also use a J-tube.
A feeding pump pushes the nutrition formula through the tube. When the patient is released from the hospital, she will be trained on the proper use of the tube at home. A nurse may also visit the patient’s home to assist or train.
J-tubes need to be flushed with lukewarm water before and after formula or medication is used. Patients must be careful not to bump or pull out the J-tube. Cincinnati Children’s Hospital recommends children’s J-tubes be taped to clothing or secured to the body with stretchy gauze.