How often should a permanent stomach feeding tube (inserted through the stomach wall) be replaced?
My 85-year-old father has a permanent stomach tube because of difficulties swallowing. The tube is getting old and discolored and we worry about bacteria contamination in the tube. The surgeon who installed it refuses to change it and in fact refuses to even look at it. We are figuring that he might expect my father to die sooner than the tube needs to be replaced, but it's a frustrating situation. Other GIs don't want to take the case because they are afraid of stealing a customer from the GI who installed the tube.
This is normally a surgical procedure, not a GI one. Thus, a referral to a surgeon may be needed to discuss this option.
Typically, unless the tube is obstructed, the tubes stay in place. The surgeon must weigh the risk of a procedure to remove and change the tube versus leaving it in. The procedure itself is fraught with risk, such as bleeding and infection.
That said, the surgeon should at least look at it. If they are unwilling, or unable, to, perhaps another opinion can be considered.
This answer is not intended as and does not substitute for medical advice - the information presented is for patient education only. Please see your personal physician for further evaluation of your individual case.
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