- By Robert Nellis
It’s National Tube Feeding Awareness Week
Tube feeding is a seldom talked about way of allowing patients to overcome a serious injury or condition and continue to lead a relatively normal and productive life. Yet it’s largely invisible unless the individual wants to make it known.
An inability to swallow due to stroke, cancer, cystic fibrosis, ALS or other condition makes tube feeding a necessity for thousands. Often it’s a temporary measure while someone is undergoing radiation or recovering from surgery. For others it’s a life-long practice and many people go to work, take vacations and manage their feeding as they go.
Journalists: Dr. Manpreet Mundi oversees the home enteral nutrition program at Mayo Clinic. Sound bites with Dr. Mundi and broll are available in the downloads
Mayo Clinic provides training, support and medical follow up for people who receive feeding tubes. A team of nurses, nutritionists and physicians serve people nationally from Rochester, Minnesota. Once a tube is placed into the abdomen – surgically or endoscopically – the team provides medical care and then tracks the person’s condition for weeks as they adjust to the tube feeding process at home. The most common problems are infection at the insertion site – the tube goes into the stomach or intestines – or problems with the feeding formula.
More than 800 patients a year begin tube feeding at Mayo Clinic – more than any from any medical center in the country – and over 500 are being followed by the team at any moment.