Non-surgically removing a G tube
Removing a G tube without surgery is very quick and simple. The patient will go for a doctor visit. The doctor will remove the tube by deflating the balloon inside the stomach and then pulling the tube out. It is the same procedure as changing the tube. It may cause some discomfort. After that the doctor will probably use silver nitrate to cauterize the wound and help speed healing. To apply it, the doctor will use a small stick with silver nitrate on the end (it looks just like a matchstick) to dab at the stoma. It might sting a little. The doctor may tape some gauze over the stoma and that will be it!
You can apply diaper rash cream around the stoma to protect the skin from stomach fluids that leak out. The doctor will probably prescribe an acid blocker to help reduce the acidity in the stomach and protect the skin. You should keep the skin clean and dry as much as possible while it heals. The hole into the stomach can close in a few hours or it may take weeks. The doctor will probably wait 3-6 weeks for the stoma to close on its own before recommending surgery. The majority of G-tube sites close on their own. The longer a tube has been in, the less likely it is to close. If a tube has been in for two years or more, it may require surgery.
Surgical procedure to remove a G tube
Closing a G tube stoma is an in-patient procedure and it is done under anesthesia. It typically requires an overnight stay in the hospital. The patient will be told not to have any food or liquids for several hours before the surgery. The time varies based on age of the patient. The patient will be put to sleep and an IV started. The surgeon will cut the skin away at the edges of the stoma to make a shape like an eye. This is because the scar tissue needs to be removed so the site can heal and because that shape is easier to sew shut than a circle. The doctor will sew up inside and outside the body. First the surgeon will sew the actual stomach closed first and then sew the skin on the belly closed. The stiches will be a little loose because the surgeon wants the wound to be able to drain as it heals.
The procedure takes a little over an hour. There is always a risk with any surgery, but overall it is routine and a very safe procedure. Afterwards the patient will go to recovery to wake up from anesthesia and then to a room to stay overnight. The patient will not be able eat for several hours or possibly not until the next day. The patient will probably be given ice chips followed later by clear liquids to be sure the stomach is working properly before being given real food. They will receive pain medicine and an antibiotic to help protect against infection. If all goes well, the patient will be discharged the day after the surgery.
Following the surgery, the patient will have some pain as it heals. It is important to watch for signs of infection, such as fever, vomiting, red streaks radiating out from the surgery site, discolored pus and the skin feeling hot to the touch. Leakage of a small amount of clear pus and some swelling is normal. The nurses will provide advice on how to care for the wound at home before you leave the hospital. Be sure to call the doctor if you have any concerns. Within two to three weeks, the doctor will see the patient again to check on the scar and clear the patient to return to their usual activities.
We hope that answered your questions about removing a G-tube and the procedures to close the hole surgically and non-surgically. Check our site for more information on G-tubes and advice for feeding a modified diet and ideas for adding calories.
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