January 21, 2016

Tube FeedingMaintaining a healthy weight is not always as easy as managing your diet and exercise routine. At Epic Health Services, we have numerous patients requiring complex nutritional therapy to help them surpass simply surviving, and move onto thriving! We specialize in pediatric enteral nutrition, also known as tube feeding. Many of you may be familiar with the term “g-button,” which is the feeding tube that is placed in the stomach in order to feed the patient.

A patient may need a feeding tube for the following reasons:

  • Failure to thrive
  • Dysphagia
  • Aspiration
  • Oral aversion/feeding difficulties
  • Short bowel syndrome
  • Food allergies
  • Eosinophilic esophagitis
  • Cystic fibrosis

These are just a few of the diagnoses that may result in the need for tube feedings. Sometimes, a feeding tube is needed just to provide extra calories and nutrition because the patient cannot meet his/her needs by mouth.

Administration:

Tube feedings can be administered through a syringe (bolus) or through a pump. A pump can provide a continuous feed over a long period of time or a bolus feeds over a short period of time. A pump is able to provide a controlled rate of feeding, and the need for it is usually determined by the patient’s ability to tolerate volume and the formula.

Formulas:

There are over 300 formulas out on the market today. The main manufacturers are Abbott Nutrition, Nestle Health Science, and Nutricia. Each formula is formulated to provide the proper nutrition (micro- and macronutrients) based on the patient’s diagnosis and needs. Formulas can be considered standard, semi-elemental, and elemental.

  • Standard: no special nutritional requirements; similar to a regular, whole foods diet.
    • Example: Pediasure, Boost Kid Essentials
  • Semi-elemental: some nutrients are pre-digested or broken down; used for patients with food/nutrient intolerances
    • Example: Peptamen, Pediasure Peptide
  • Elemental: nutrients are broken down into their smallest form for easier digestion and absorption; used for patients with food allergies and/or severe malabsorption/maldigestion; this formula is typically hypo-allergenic. Example: Neocate, Elecare

 

There are other supplements called “modulars” that can be added to a patient’s formula or whole foods diet to add calories and nutrients. They cannot be used for sole source nutrition and are only meant to supplement a patient’s diet.

Example: Duocal, Liquigen, Benecalorie

Some families and patients prefer a holistic, organic, whole foods approach to tube feeding. Luckily, there are products on the market that allow a patient to eat the ingredients of a regular diet, but in a blenderized form. Real Food Blends and Liquid Hope are two formulas made up of whole foods (grains, vegetables, fruits, and meats) that have been blended into a form in order to be fed through a tube. This way, families and patients can feel confident about what nutrients and foods they are putting into their bodies. Check to see if your insurance provider will cover these blenderized, real food formulas.

Healthy Weight Week means a lot to us at Epic because we want to see every child thrive! We carry over 300 different nutritional formulas and a variety of feeding supplies from pumps and food bags to extension sets and feeders. Contact us today to find out who we can help meet your needs!