Our Services – Gastric Tube Changes


VCU Health at Baird Vascular Institute is a multi-disciplinary collaboration of interventional radiologists and vascular surgeons. By working in tandem, we can use the most advanced imaging technology to give us the fastest, clearest picture of a patient’s peripheral circulatory system and vascular problems and diseases, pointing us precisely to the right diagnosis and treatment plan and procedures.

It also allows us to provide services outside those of a traditional vascular practice. We can treat the pain of plantar fasciitis and other tendon injuries, place IV ports for long-term care or dialysis, or treat painful, sometimes debilitating, varicose veins. And as a division of VCU Health, we partner with our colleagues at VCU Health Medical Center to refer patients whose conditions require higher levels of care.

We also perform gastric tube changes here in our office – a service we haven’t written much about.

We spoke with Nancy Lang, a member of Baird Vascular Institute’s nursing team about gastric tube changes and what’s involved for the patient.

What is a gastric tube change? For patients that have a gastronomy tube (more commonly referred to as a feeding tube), about every 3 or 4 months they must come in to have the tube changed because it gets clogged or starts leaking. When the feedings become slower going in or the patient is seeing some leaking around the tube, that’s a sign that it’s time for the tube to be changed. Occasionally, a tube will get accidently pulled out and folks have to come in to get it reinserted.

Who needs this service? A feeding tube can be required for several medical conditions, some short term or others that are long term – depending on the patient’s medical needs. Some folks are undergoing radiation treatments and unable to eat solid food. Some people are unable to perform the function of swallowing. Sometimes patients are paralyzed and food doesn’t move through their system very well, so they also require a feeding tube for nutrition.

How long does it take? A gastric tube change is a very quick procedure. The patient comes in and the staff takes their vital signs, the doctor then explains the procedure, then the patient signs a consent form.  Next, the patient is taken back to a sterile procedure room, the staff cleans the area and drape the patient. The physician inserts a wire into the current tube and removes current tube. After the physician gets the tube out, that leaves the wire, and then they insert the new tube over the wire and inflate the tube. An X-ray machine is used during the procedure to guide the insertion process.

Is it painful? The process is not painful. Some people are irritated where the tube has been rubbing, so if the patient is irritated or sore, the physician will use a little numbing medication. Some patients that have had their tube for a long time don’t need to be numbed, it greatly depends on the patient and their tolerance for irritation or minor pain.

What should I know before coming in for a gastric tube change? We generally ask you to not eat for about 4 hours before procedure so that the stomach is empty before the tube is changed. After the tube is changed you can resume normal feeding and daily schedule.

Why is Baird Vascular Institute a good provider for this service? Here at Baird, we have the x-ray equipment right here in the office. Of course, the procedure can be done at the hospital, but it’s a lot more convenient for the patients to come here. We have free, convenient parking, and most of the time we are right on schedule because we’re a small facility. Here, the same nurse stays with the patient before during and after the procedure, so there’s very little waiting – and the patient gets a little more individualized care.

For more information regarding gastric tube changes or any of the other services that are offered at the VCU Baird Vascular Institute, feel free to call 804.828.2600 or visit us on the web at http://www.vcuvascular.com.