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If other approaches of treating gastroparesis (delayed gastric emptying) do not work, you may need surgery to insert a feeding tube. The tube, called a jejunostomy tube, is inserted through the skin on your abdomen into the small intestine. The feeding tube allows you to put nutrients directly into the small intestine, bypassing the stomach altogether. You will receive special liquid food to use with the tube.
By avoiding the source of the problem (the stomach) and putting nutrients and medication directly into the small intestine, you ensure that these products are digested and delivered to your bloodstream quickly. A jejunostomy tube can be temporary and is used only if necessary when gastroparesis is severe.
In general, a feeding tube is a poor therapy for gastroparesis. As someone who does gastroparesis therapy all the time, I really try not to use feeding tubes. Feeding tubes leak and hurt, and in younger women, can lead to body image issues. Feeding tubes just deliver fluids and nutrition without the patient actually having to eat, but do not eliminate all the symptoms, so there is generally still nausea and vomiting. It’s the right thing for certain people, though, especially those that have become malnourished. Unless someone shows up malnourished, I try to do every other therapy first because I want to give him or her a solution that is going to treat the symptoms.
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