Enteral nutrition, also known as tube feeding, is a way of delivering nutrition directly to your stomach or small intestine. Your doctor might recommend tube feeding if you can't eat enough to get the nutrients you need.

When tube feeding occurs outside the hospital, doctors refer to it as home enteral nutrition. A home enteral nutrition care team can teach you how to feed yourself through a tube and provide support when you encounter problems.

Home enteral nutrition might be recommended if you have difficulty eating, but your digestive system works normally. Examples include:

  • Cancer, such as head and neck cancers or cancer treatment that makes it difficult or painful to swallow
  • Neurological problems, such as stroke and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
  • Gastrointestinal problems, such as gastroparesis and bowel obstruction
  • Trauma, such as an injury to your digestive tract

Types of feeding tubes

Feeding tubes deliver liquid nutrition directly to your stomach or small intestine. Options may include:

  • Feeding tube passed through the nose. If you'll need a feeding tube for a month or less, your health care provider may recommend inserting a tube through your nose and into your stomach (nasogastric tube) or your small intestine (nasojejunal tube).
  • Feeding tube passed through the skin on your abdomen. If you'll need longer term tube feeding, your doctor may recommend a procedure to place a tube through the skin on your abdomen and into your stomach (gastrostomy) or into your small intestine (jejunostomy).

Which tube is best for you will depend on your situation. Discuss your options with your health care provider.

Jul. 17, 2014