Enteral feeding is a method of delivering nutrients directly into a person’s stomach or small intestine, either orally or through a feeding tube. There are several reasons that a person would need enteral feeding. Some of the most common reasons include gastrointestinal (GI) disorders, such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, or metabolic disorders, such as Hurler Syndrome, Niemann-Pick disease, and Tay-Sachs disease. Babies who are born prematurely may need enteral feeding, as may children who are failing to thrive due to a variety of medical conditions ranging from a cleft pallet to food allergies to Down Syndrome.
It is important to remember that every person’s enteral feeding regimen will be different. Some patients will be prescribed enteral nutrition as a supplement to their normal diet, while for others, enteral nutrition will be their sole source of food.
Most feeding tubes fall under two main categories: those that go through the nose to get to the stomach or intestine, and those that enter the abdomen through the skin and go directly into the stomach or intestine. The most common types of feeding tubes are:
The gastrostomy tube, or the G-tube as it is usually called, delivers nutrition directly to the stomach through an insertion in the abdomen.
These are temporary tubes that don’t require surgery to be inserted. Nasogastric (NG) tubes run from the nose, down the esophagus, and into the stomach. Nasoduodenal (ND) tubes run from the nose to the stomach, ending in the first part of the small intestine. Nasojejunal (NJ) tubes extend into the second portion of the small intestine, the jejunum.
The gastrostomy-jejunostomy (GJ) tube accesses both the stomach and small intestine.
Once you know what type of feeding tube you will require, you will need to choose a pump. A feeding pump infuses formula into the feeding tube in a slow, metered fashion. Most pumps will work with any type of feeding tube as long as you have the necessary supplies.
Enteral feeding formulas are “nutritionally complete,” meaning they’re designed to give you all the nutrients — protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals — you need to live and grow. There are thousands of enteral formulas available. A patient’s medical condition will determine the exact proportion of nutrients needed. In addition, some formulas are designed to be used with feeding tubes, and some are designed to be taken orally. You are therefore advised to speak with your doctor before visiting a medical supply store, so that you will not be overwhelmed with the available options.
There are feeding pumps available today that are designed for active and mobile children and babies, and for families who are constantly on the go.
One such feeding pump is the Enteralite Infinity Pump. Weighing less than a pound, and with a 24-hour battery life, this pump is the perfect solution for children who are always on the move.
Another option for families on the move is the Kangaroo 924 feeding pump. Weighing in at only 3.75 pounds and with a 16 hour batter life, the Kangaroo 942 pump has a pre-set volume and overflow infusion control that ensures a correct and consistent delivery of nutrition each and every day.