The first type of temporary tube is an NJ-tube (nasojejunal). The tube is generally placed by an interventional radiologist under a continuous x-ray procedure known as fluoroscopy. The tube is placed into the nose and advanced down through the esophagus and stomach. It is passed through the pylorus, which is the valve between the stomach and small intestine, until it reaches the jejunum, which is the middle part of the small bowel.
NJ-tubes are very easy to dislodge and pull out, and they can cause nasal irritation and ulceration. For these reasons, they are only used temporarily. Sometimes a patient only needs nutritional support to get through a difficult flare up. Other times, a patient may benefit from a short course of rest to their gut. Another instance when an NJ-tube might be used is to determine a patient’s tolerance of tube feeding and/or types of formula. Sometimes, particularly with younger patients, doctors prefer to use an NJ-tube as a trial run before surgically placing a permanent tube. If the patient is responsive and begins thriving, then a permanent tube is a good option.
The second temporary tube is an NG tube (nasogastric). It is placed the same way as the NJ tube, although it stops in the stomach. In addition to being used for feedings, it can also be used to remove stomach contents, such as food, liquids and air. Gastroparesis patients usually do not utilize the NG tube for feedings, but for decompression and the removal of stomach contents.