Henry's Homemade Formula

Our journey towards adding "real" foods into Henry's Homemade Blended G-Tube Formula

What is a g-tube?

A gastric feeding tube, or “g-tube” is the type of feeding tube that Henry currently has.  It was inserted February 14, 2011 and replaced the nasal-gastric tube (ng-tube)  he had prior (an ng-tube is a more temporary feeding tube that is inserted in the nose and goes down the throat and into the stomach).  There are many brands of g-tubes available and Henry has a mic-key.  It is a low-profile device, meaning it sits close to his tummy and doesn’t have any long tubes sticking out.  Here is a photo of Henry’s g-tube, taken about a month after it was first inserted.

Henry’s g-tube

The g-tube is considered a permanent feeding tube, meaning it is surgically inserted under general anesthetic.  It is done laparoscopically, so there is only a small scar near his belly button.  It can be removed at any time and the wound heals quickly.  During the surgery, the stomach is physically moved and stitched to the side of the abdomen wall.   This tube is changed every 3 months, and Shawn & I can do it at home.

Henry’s g-tube stays in because of a small water-filled balloon that is on the inside.  Here is a diagram of what the g-tube looks like when it’s not inside:

Mic-Key G-Tube Diagram

As you can see, the part that you can see in the first photo is only the very top of the “button”.  This is attached to small tube that goes inside Henry’s tummy.  At the end of this tube is a small balloon filled with 5ml of water (the amount of water depends on the size of tube, which depends on how big the person is).  This balloon prevents the tube from falling out.  It is semi-porous, so Shawn & I check the amount of water in it every week or so, to ensure it is still full.

We specifically wanted a mic-key brand of g-tube as it is the smallest and less invasive in daily activities.  Some other styles have long tubes (like a catheter tube) that stick out.  From my understanding, the style of tube you get is largely at the discretion of the surgeon, at least at BC Children’s Hospital.  Henry’s mic-key allows him to participate in all his usual activities… swimming, crawling…playing… anything that any other 18 month old would do.  If he falls really hard on his tummy we check to make sure it’s ok, but thankfully so far we’ve had no concerns.

If his tube were to ever fall out, it’s no big deal as long as we’re close by and notice right away.  If it comes out, and we have a replacement mic-key kit with us, then we’d simply put a new one in.  If we don’t have a replacement, then we can insert a catheter tube (we carry some in our diaper bag, just in case).  Then put a g-tube when we get home.  The problem arises if his tube comes out and we’re not there, or if we don’t notice (like at night).  The body heals tremendously fast, and the hole into his tummy would begin to heal immediately.  Within a couple of hours, it would have shrunk so much that his regular g-tube would no longer fit.  For this scenario, we have smaller sized catheter tubes that we would use.  Then off to the hospital we go… they would likely be able to manipulate the hole enough to get the g-tube in.  If – worst case scenario – his tube falls out and we don’t notice for many hours, then the hole would like heal over.  For example, if his tube fell out at midnight, by morning the hole would be closed.  Then he’d have to have surgery again to reopen it – no one’s idea of a good time :(.

When it’s time for Henry to eat, we fill his extension tube with water (see above diagram for pictures of the extension tubes).  We put water in it to limit the air going into Henry’s tummy.  There are two extensions – a larger one for thicker fluids and a skinner one.  This is then attached to the mic-key “button”.  Then we “flush” his tube with more water – currently 15 ml water before and after he eats – to help prevent the tube getting clogged with dried food (I’ve clogged his tube twice already!).  Then the extension tube is attached to his feeding bag.  We use a feeding pump with Henry as it delivers his food at a slow, steady pace which he seems to tolerate better.  You can also use a syringe (usually 60ml) to push the food into the tube.  I’ve tried this before with limited success.

Henry will likely have his g-tube for quite some time and we are coming to accept this.  It’s not what we envisioned our lives would be like, but that’s ok.  It’s where we are now, and that’s what matters. :).

Cheers, Shelley

Alot of the information contained here can be found in the Tube Feeding At Home manual, from BC Children’s Hospital.

6 responses to “What is a g-tube?

  1. Whitney Kendrick says:

    Hi I am a mother of a g tube fed baby as well. We have spent a lot of time at BCCH and various other hospitals in my daughter short three months of life. We are currently having issues with granulation tissue and leakage issues from her Mic-key. I have been doing some research on g tube typical and came across your site. Unfortunately Christine is away this week and we are being transferred to kamloops hospital which is closer to our Revelstoke home. I have asked the staff about the nutriport which they do not have a stock to replace her mic-key. How have you found it so far? I am hoping that they can order us one in kamloops to trial. As the leaking g tube is the only thing holding us in hospital. I am so excited that I found your site!! I am out of a Facebook group of g tube kids

  2. Whitney Kendrick says:

    Sorry I am using my phone to post and I could no longer see what I was writing.
    I am on a Facebook group with other g tube mom but they are most from the states. I would be very interested in speaking or emailing with you more if you were interference as well. This is all new to me and it would be nice to talk to someone who may have similar experiences. Thanks

    • henrysmama says:

      Hi Whitney,

      I’d be happy to talk to you more. I’m actually from Kamloops originally and still have family there. I have your email address and will write you directly. Cheers, shelley

  3. Katie says:

    This is interesting to read, I have a feeding tube, and I’m almost 25 years old. I’ve had it all of my life, cos of a swallow disorder.

    • henrysmama says:

      Hi Katie,

      Thanks for your comment. I’d be interested to learn more about your experiences with a feeding tube. Henry is so young that, although he is talking about how it “feels” more and more… we still don’t know a lot about what it feels like to have one. He often says his button hurts “just a little” and talks about feeling the balloon inside his tummy… something I had never thought of before. If you’re comfortable, I’d love if you would share more about what it has been like growing up with a feeding tube. If you’d prefer, I’m happy to pass along our email address. If you’re not comfortable… no worries at all. Cheers, Shelley

      • Katie says:

        Sure, whatever you want to know.:) I’d be happy to help, but I’m a medical professional of any sort.

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