Key definitions

There can be a lot of new words when learning about any topic – so here are some of the common terms you’ll hear and read across the myTube website, with a simple explanation.

Click on the boxes at the top to see the words by group. Click on the word you’re interested in and the explanation will appear. Also take a look at the information links on the External resources page.

Feeding tube or gastrostomy

A short length of flexible plastic tubing that is fitted in the abdomen area, to allow administration of liquid feed and fluids directly into the stomach. The clinical word for this tube is a gastrostomy. Depending on how it is fitted, it can also be called a PEG, PIG or RIG tube.

PEG or percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy

This tube is placed with local anaesthetic and sedation, by a doctor in the endoscopy department. It is placed around the middle of the abdomen, directly into the stomach. The tube may need replacing after a few years.

PIG or per-oral image guided gastrostomy

This tube is placed with local anaesthetic and sedation, by a doctor in the X-ray department. It is placed around the middle of the abdomen, directly into the stomach. The tube may need replacing after a few years.

RIG or radiological inserted gastrostomy

This tube is placed with local anaesthetic and sometimes sedation, by a doctor in the X-ray department. It is placed around the middle of the abdomen, directly into the stomach. The tube needs changing every few months, but with simple procedure that does not require another operation.

NG or nasogastric tube

A feeding tube that is placed via the nose and into the stomach. Typically used when tube feeding is required for short period of time. It can be used when fitting a gastrostomy feeding tube is not possible, or if it is not wanted.

The feeding methods used are exactly the same. However, an NG tube requires a safety check before each and every use, as it can easily become dislodged.

Low profile or button feeding tube

This type of tube has just a small ‘button’ that sits almost flush to your abdomen (as Jason has in the films on myTube). It can be more discreet if you wear tighter fitting clothing and want to go swimming. It needs an extension set adding to use for feeding etc.

Enteral feeding

The clinical term for feeding that involves using any kind of feeding tube to deliver liquid feed directly into the stomach or digestive system.

Feed

Getting your nutrition via a feeding tube requires a special type of liquid food. There are many types of this feed, made by different companies. Feeds can have extra protein, fibre or be higher in calories. Your dietitian will prescribe the best feed for you.

Feed may come in larger bags to be used with feeding pumps or in smaller bottles that can be given via syringe (gravity or plunger method). The bottled feeds are also designed to be taken orally and therefore come in a range of flavours.

Please note: the feeds seen in use on this website are the ones is used in the region where filming took place. No funding or support was received from Nutricia to make this site. It should not be seen as an endorsement of this brand over any other.

Bolus feed

When a volume of liquid feed is given via a syringe, either by letting it flow under gravity or by pushing it through with the syringe plunger. Bolus feeds can also be given via a feeding pump set to a fast feed rate. Depending upon your nutritional needs, a few boluses may be given over the day.

Continuous feed

When the daily dose of liquid feed is given via a feeding pump over a number of hours at a slow feed rate. This can be during the day or overnight, depending on what is most comfortable for you and suits your lifestyle best.

Gravity bolus feed

The plunger is removed from a large syringe which is then attached to the end of the feeding tube. Liquid feed is poured into the open syringe, a small amount at a time, and allowed to flow down the feeding tube under gravity into the stomach.

Plunger bolus feed

Using a large syringe with its plunger in place, liquid feed is pulled up into the syringe. This is then attached to the end of feeding tube, and the plunger is used to slowly push the feed into the stomach.

Feeding pump

A feeding pump is a machine that is used to give feed, via a giving set, down the feeding tube and into the stomach. This is usually using a continuous feed method, but can also be a bolus feed.

The pump sits in a stand that can be put on a bedside cabinet or table. Most companies who make these pumps now can provide a back-pack that the feeding pump can placed in so you can feed on the move. It can be worn or secured to the back of a wheelchair.

Giving set

A length of plastic tubing that allows you to administer feed when using a feeding pump. One end attaches to the bag of feed, and the other end attaches to the feeding tube, with part of it running through the feeding pump itself (depends on which type of pump you are given).

Syringe

The type of syringe used for tube feeding is a special type and not like those used for injections. They have endings designed to connect to feeding tubes. They come in different sizes and makes. Typically, there are larger ones of about 50/60mls used for giving doses of feed and water flushes; smaller ones may also be used to measure out and give medications.

Extension set

An section of tubing that attaches to a low profile or button style feeding tube, so a syringe or feeding pump giving set can be attached to enable feeding, water flush or giving medication.

Dietitian

A trained and registered health care professional who has expertise in advising and prescribing nutritional support for people living with health conditions. This includes oral nutrition (by mouth), but many specialise in supporting feeding via feeding tubes, also known as enteral feeding.

Speech and Language Therapist

A trained and registered health care professional who has expertise in assessing swallowing, chewing and drinking. They will help monitor changes in your ability to eat and drink over time. They will advise you if any change to the consistency of your food and drink is required, to make it safer and/or easier to consume. For example, making softer food that is easier to chew, or using a thickener to help reduce the risk of choking.

Non-invasive ventilation (NIV)

A way of supporting breathing that uses a portable machine and a face mask, connected by a piece of tubing. Air flows into the mask at a slightly raised pressure, helping it to flow into the lungs. NIV is often used at night, and later on may be used in the daytime too.

Advanced Directive

A written plan that sets out preferences for future care and treatment. This plan is discussed with family and the clinical team. People can choose to put one in place if they want one. It can help them to decide the type of care they want to receive as they become more unwell. This can include among other things, how nutrition and tube feeding will be managed.