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Ask the RD: What Causes G-Tube Pain?

Amy Long Carrera, MS, RD, CNSC, CWCMS
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist | Shield HealthCare
04/11/14  8:10 PM PST
G-Tube Pain

Question: My tube-fed patient complains of G-tube pain — internal pain where his G-tube is located. What could be causing this?

Answer: If you’ve already ruled out abdominal bloating or constipation, pain may indicate the presence of infection or pressure necrosis on the inside of the body. Buried bumper syndrome occurs when the internal bumper becomes lodged into the gastric or abdominal wall, usually because of excessive tension between the internal and external bolsters. This phenomenon can happen when a patient gains weight, increasing his abdominal girth, and should be ruled out or confirmed by a gastroenterologist.

This article is designed for educational use only and does not replace the advice of a medical professional. For more information, please contact your primary care physician.

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Comments

17 Comments

  1. Joy g.
    Posted September 7, 2017 at 2:18 am PST

    Patient complaint of pain at peg site..no fever..but can’t defecate w/out dulcolax..that is y we give dulcolax every other day..she complaint pain once a wek..the stoma is clean & dry..that is y i want to know what are the other reason y a patient w/ peg tube complaining of pain..thanks..

  2. Posted September 8, 2017 at 11:56 am PST

    Thank you for your question. Would consider, is patient stooling regularly and are the stools soft or hard? Is the patient getting enough water? Fiber in the formula? Adequate water and fiber could help with bowel movements. If you can’t see any skin issues, PEG fits properly (about the width of a dime between external bolster and skin), no leakage, abdomen is not distended, no nausea/vomiting/constipation is noted, stools are soft and regular and pt is meeting fluid and fiber needs, may need abdominal xray to determine other causes, such as tube dislodgement or GI issues. If you would like to email em directly to discuss patient’s fluid and fiber needs, please do so at rd@shieldhealthcare.com. Thank you!

  3. Sherry
    Posted February 4, 2018 at 11:32 am PST

    Have a 31 year old daughter with cerebral palsy. She gets congested and mucus this time of the year (winter). She doesn’t feel well but no fever, vomiting but not too much ( mostly a lot of mucus). Giving her Pedialyte through her feeding tube and just her required seizure medication. No formula right now since she will probably vomit that up. Each time I give her the Pedialyte and her meds through the feeding tube she gets fussy and starts to moan. She is non-verbal so she is unable to tell me exactly what is going on. I plan to get her a chest x-ray to make sure there is nothing going on with her lungs. She had lab work done about 1-2 weeks ago and the Doctor did not inform me of any issues with her lab. She seems to have difficulty breathing towards the evening but not severe. I give her breathing treatments. Could she have a stomach ache, virus or UTI?

  4. Posted February 6, 2018 at 8:46 am PST

    Hi Sherry, I’m sorry your daughter is not feeling well. It sounds like she needs to be seen and evaluated by her doctor in order to answer your question. I hope she feels better!

  5. Cassidy Morris
    Posted March 15, 2018 at 7:01 am PST

    I have a 13 month old who is on continuous feeds. He has congenital heart disease and other issues. He has chronic constipation. He takes aspirin daily. His gtube has always been sensitive. He gets cellulitis easily. If you pick him up under his arms he screams in pain, if you adjust his gtube button or place the extension he screams, he has even gone into a seizure when his gtube was pulled a little. His doctors just say he is sensitive. His stools are never regular, he either has extremely hard or extremely loose. They refuse to rule out anything on the inside that could be wrong. What do you think is wrong?

  6. Posted March 19, 2018 at 8:15 am PST

    Hi Cassidy, it’s really hard to say without knowing your child. That said, you should be able to seek a second or even third opinion from a pediatric gastroenterologist if you are not satisfied with the care you son is getting.

  7. Posted March 15, 2018 at 10:50 pm PST

    I got a new g tube 5 days ago when he ripped it out no sedation it was worse than labor. I keep hurting is this normal no one gave me instructions

  8. Posted March 19, 2018 at 8:12 am PST

    Hi Sharon, sorry you had such a bad experience. If the tube site is still bothering you, you should check in with your primary doctor or gastroenterologist.

  9. Posted March 15, 2018 at 10:53 pm PST

    It was almost a year the last one old type with a looks like a plunger on it quit working and I felt grate until he ripped it out I screamed cried worst thing ever caused me truma

  10. Posted March 15, 2018 at 10:56 pm PST

    Can I take a stool softeners

  11. Posted March 19, 2018 at 8:10 am PST

    Hi Sharon, thank you for your question! This sounds like one for your doctor, however. Good health!

  12. Irma
    Posted June 19, 2018 at 7:17 pm PST

    Hi, my boyfriend is 60 and has ALS, the aggressive kind. He always thought he could beat this desease, and wanted to eat as this was one of his favorite things to do. He was up for a stem cell, but with low lung capacity, he is no longer a candidate. As we noticed he was choking and aspirating, he needed to get a G-tube, and did so. Within two days following, he got worse and wasn’t able to breath because of the heavy secretions. Every five minutes we ( nurse, RT, and I) were suctioning him. I was so exhausted. He developed diahrrea, while having heavy diarrhea and I guess we were putting more focus on his airway. Eventually he told us that ever since he got the G-Tube, the abdominal pains never left, and I wonder, will this part of his symptoms ever get better?

  13. Posted June 22, 2018 at 9:47 am PST

    Hi Irma, thanks for reaching out. I’m sorry he’s having trouble. Sounds like you should speak with his pulmonologist and gastroenterologist. Some things to consider, the rate of feeding – is he on a feeding pump or does he need one?, the type of formula he’s on – does it have fiber? does he have any issues with absorption?, is/was there an infection contributing to the diarrhea and increased secretions?, is he getting enough water through his tube to thin the secretions if needed?, does he generally have regular bowel movements and if not, does he need to be on a bowel regimen? Together with his medical team you should be able to get him more comfortable. Hope that helps!

  14. Gamko macon
    Posted October 5, 2018 at 5:26 pm PST

    Hello, my patient has been on vacation for 3 weeks and when he returned, his jtube could not be unclogged. I have tried using warm water but no luck. Few days ago he started vomiting and having diarrhea, and stomach pain. Is there anyway to unclog this tubing. Could the stomach pain be related to the clogged tubing? Please advise on steps to take.

  15. Posted October 8, 2018 at 8:52 am PST

    Hello and thank you for your question. The stomach pain, vomiting and diarrhea could be related to a number of things, including possible infection. He should definitely be seen by his healthcare professional. If the tube has been clogged for a few days, which it sounds like is the case, you likely need to go in to see a professional and if it cannot be unclogged it will need to be replaced.

  16. Janene Francis
    Posted October 7, 2018 at 9:44 am PST

    Hi my Daughter is 30 years old with cerebral palsy she has been complaining lately about a lot of pain in her PEG area . The area around the site seems to be harder than usual. Unfortunately she cannot tell me what is going on , but is scared every time I go to touch it (ie for cleaning etc) and she is shaking her head when I feed her . Sitting in her wheelchair she seems to be really uncomfortable . She does have trouble doing a bowel movement but this is normal for her and is on medication for it , Was wondering if this is normal or worth insisting GP books up for us to go for an x ray

  17. Posted October 8, 2018 at 8:45 am PST

    Hi Janene, thanks for your question. This is definitely something to have your healthcare professional take a look at as soon as possible. Good luck!

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