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Sometimes, people with CF still have trouble gaining weight even after taking pancreatic enzymes and eating a high-calorie diet. It's not always possible for people with CF to meet their dietary needs eating by mouth alone. If you are struggling to gain weight, your CF care team may suggest gastrostomy tube feedings (G-tubes) to help you get to a healthy weight, especially when you are ill. G-tube feedings can be done at night and extra calories gained from G-tubes can lead to weight gain and growth, improved energy and self-image, better lung function, and the ability to fight infection.1,2

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G-tubes can sound scary at first, but inserting the G-tube is usually an easy outpatient procedure. Your CF care team will work with a gastroenterologist (GI) and make suggestions about G-tube feedings based on what is best for your individual needs.1,3

The information in this section is intended for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

G-tube FAQs3-5

Here are some common questions people have about G-tubes. Always ask your doctor or CF care team if you don't understand something or have additional questions.
What is a G-tube?

Gastrostomy tubes, or G-tubes, help give extra calories to people who struggle to gain weight. A GI places a small tube through the skin into the stomach. At night, a longer tube is connected and attached to a pump that gives a high-calorie formula to people when sleeping. In doing this, it's possible to get an extra 1,000 to 1,500 calories during the night.

Is it OK to eat with a G-tube in?

Yes. The G-tube feeding is not a replacement for daily food but a supplement, most often given at night.

Are pancreatic enzymes still needed with G-tube feedings?

Yes. Many patients take a dose of pancreatic enzymes before and after the feedings as they would for a normal meal. Your CF care team will explain how to take pancreatic enzymes during G-tube feedings.

How long are G-tube feedings?

Feedings are usually completed during sleep, but your CF care team can help you make a G-tube feeding schedule.

How long does the G-tube stay in?

The G-tube will stay in only as long as you need it. Your GI can help determine when it's no longer needed. Most often after the G-tube is removed, the hole closes over in a few days. In some cases, it may take a few weeks to close. Surgery is not needed in most cases.

Is traveling with a G-tube OK?

Generally, yes. Remember to take all the supplies needed for feeding. Opened formula can be stored in a cooler in the summer to prevent it from spoiling. Some patients keep a small kit that is filled with supplies needed for travel.

What if the G-tube comes out?

If the G-tube falls out, the opening will not close up right away. A new G-tube should be put in within 2 to 3 hours. If you are unsure of what to do or how to put it back in, call the GI or go to the emergency room at your local hospital.

References: 1. Cystic fibrosis and nutrition. KidsHealth website. http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/cf-nutrition.html. Accessed May 1, 2016. 2. Supporting nutrition: understanding tube feeding. Cystic Fibrosis Foundation website. https://www.cff.org/Living-with-CF/Treatments-and-Therapies/Nutrition/Understanding-Tube-Feeding/. Accessed May 1, 2016. 3. Managing treatments: nutrition: tube feeding. Johns Hopkins Cystic Fibrosis Center website. http://www.hopkinscf.org/living-with-cf/managing-treatments/nutrition/tube-feeding/. Accessed May 1, 2016. 4. Interventional radiology: placement and care of your gastrostomy tube. Health Facts for You. UW Health website. http://www.uwhealth.org/healthfacts/radiology-invasive/5899.html. Accessed May 1, 2016. 5. A guide for parents G-tube care at home. Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota. http://www.childrensmn.org/manuals/pfs/homecare/196854.pdf. Accessed May 1, 2016.

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