Pediatric Gastrostomy Tube Program
Placement of a gastrostomy tube (g-tube) is one of the most common surgical procedures performed in the pediatric population. At UF Health Shands Hospital, our Pediatric Gastrostomy Tube Program provides a multidisciplinary and family-centered approach to managing the nutritional needs of children with a wide variety of complex medical needs. Pediatric surgeons at UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital are board-certified and specially trained in g-tube surgeries, placing an average of 150 of these feeding tubes a year to provide nutrition for children who cannot swallow well or tolerate enough nutrition by mouth to grow and develop appropriately.
Our pediatric surgeons collaborate with pediatricians and pediatric specialties such as our gastroenterologist, neonatologists, cardiologists and other specialized pediatric providers to develop individualized surgical plans based on each child’s medical needs. Your care team will include your surgeon and other physicians on our team, advanced practice providers specialized in caring for feeding tubes, specialized g-tube nurses, nutritionists, occupational therapists, child life specialists, case managers and social workers. We work as a cohesive unit, all with the goal to assure the best care for your child and help you navigate living with a feeding tube. To ensure this continues after your stay at UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital, you will follow up after discharge in the pediatric surgery outpatient g-tube clinic.
At UF Health Shands Hospital, we have the only dedicated outpatient multidisciplinary pediatric g-tube clinic in the state of Florida. This clinic is managed by a pediatric surgery nurse practitioner, collaborating with a nationally registered and state licensed dietitian specialized in managing the nutritional needs of children with complex medical conditions. A member of our pediatric surgery team is available around the clock, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Our team is dedicated to assisting patients and families in caring for all of your g-tube needs and helping to improve you and your child’s quality of life while living with a g-tube.
G-tubes are inserted directly into the stomach by a pediatric surgeon to provide another way to offer food and/or medications. This procedure is done in the operating room while your child is under general anesthesia. Our pediatric anesthesiologists are specially trained to provide anesthesia and perioperative pain control safely. If your child is able to take formula or food by mouth safely, they will still be able to do this when they have a g-tube. G-tubes can be in place permanently but are often only temporary and can be removed at any time when they are no longer needed.
Gastrostomy tubes are placed in children with a wide range of medical conditions including, but not limited to:
- Failure to thrive
- Craniofacial abnormalities
- Cardiac conditions
- Neurological disorders
- Gastrointestinal disorders
- Respiratory conditions
- Congenital abnormalities
- Metabolic and genetic disorders
- Severe trauma
Feeding tubes are also used to help manage gastrointestinal motility disorders for decompression of the stomach by providing a way to release air out of the stomach.
Meet Pediatric Surgeon Dr. Janice Taylor
Janice Taylor, MD, MEd, is part of the UF Health pediatric surgery team, which includes the chief of pediatric surgery Saleem Islam, MD, MPH, as well as Shawn Larson, MD, FACS, Moiz Mustafa, MD, and Robin Petroze, MD, MPH. Dr. Taylor is passionate about all areas of pediatric surgery, including neonatal surgery and minimally invasive pediatric surgery.
What to expect during your stay with us
Gastrostomy tubes are inserted either surgically (open versus laparoscopic) or by a percutaneous endoscopic approach. Your surgeon will decide with you which approach is best for your child and discuss these steps in more detail prior to scheduling surgery. The decision on technique depends on multiple factors, including age, size of patient and previous surgeries.
Pediatric g-tubes at UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital are most often inserted using laparoscopy, which is a minimally invasive surgical technique that uses small incisions and a small camera to allow the surgeon to safely see inside the abdomen during surgery. The procedure to place the g-tube usually takes less than an hour.
Most children are hospitalized after surgery for one or two days, have minimal post-surgical pain and recover quickly from the procedure. The length of hospitalization will vary depending on your child’s medical history. Your child may not be able to have anything by mouth or g-tube for 6-24 hours after surgery, depending on their medical history.
Once your surgeon has determined it is safe to start feeding, g-tube feeds will be initiated slowly until your child reaches their goal amount. A nutritionist will meet with you during the hospitalization and provide recommendations for a g-tube feeding plan. Specialized gastrostomy nurses will also meet with you to explain and demonstrate how to take care of the g-tube at home. A case manager or social worker will assist you in getting established with a medical supply company prior to discharge. Supplies such as a feeding pump, feeding bags and syringes will be ordered by your medical team, and then delivered to your hospital room before discharge, or to your home by a medical supply company. Once you are discharged, your g-tube supplies will continue to be delivered by your medical supply company to your house.
We recommend that your child follow up in our pediatric surgery g-tube clinic 2-4 weeks after surgery, and then routinely until they transition to oral feeds, no longer have a g-tube or switch to an adult clinic. The frequency of routine follow up will vary based on your child’s age and individual needs, although this will typically become less frequent over time. We also offer telemedicine visits for many of our patients when appropriate.