Confirming Feeding Tube Placement in Homecare

In cases when someone cannot eat or drink normally, feeding tubes become an incredibly effective way for them to receive food, fluids, and medications. However, if you or someone you know uses a feeding tube, it is vital to understand how to do so safely. 

One of the most important steps when using a feeding tube is testing its placement. In this article, we’ll share the best way to confirm placement, how to do it, and much more.

Best Method for Testing Feeding Tube Placement at Home

The best way to test the placement of a feeding tube for home care is to use a PH testing kit. While there are other ways to confirm proper placement, PH tests such as the RightSpotpH® Indicator have several distinct advantages.

How to Use a PH Test for Feeding Tube Placement

For anyone concerned about performing a PH placement test correctly, you’ll be pleased to know that the process is relatively simple. Below are the easy steps you can follow to confirm the placement of a nasogastric (NG) or orogastric (OG) feeding tube using a RightSpotpH® Indicator: 

  1. Connect the PH indicator to a luer lock syringe
  2. Insufflate 10 ml of air (for adults) into the feeding tube
  3. Pull back the syringe plunger until stomach fluid enters the syringe

As the stomach fluid enters the syringe, it will contact the PH indicator and change its color. If the color changes to a bright yellow, matching the color key on the indicator this indicates that the feeding tube has proper placement and is safe to use. 

If the color on the indicator does not match the color key on the indicator, that means that the acidity of the fluid is higher than 4.5, indicating improper feeding tube placement. In such cases, be sure to adjust the feeding tube’s placement and test it again before using the tube.

Advantages of PH Tests for Testing Feeding Tube Placement

Now that you have an understanding of how easy it is to use a PH testing kit to confirm the placement of a feeding tube at home, let’s discuss some of the reasons why this method is better than the alternatives. Below are five clear advantages of using a PH test. 

  • Accuracy: PH tests consistently prove to be as accurate, if not more accurate, than other testing methods. 
  • Affordability: PH tests are highly affordable, especially compared to using X-rays to test feeding tube placement. 
  • Easy to Use: Using a PH test is so easy that you can do it at home, even if you don’t have any medical experience. 
  • Fast Results: PH tests give you quick results that are easy to interpret from the comfort of your home. 


Alternative Methods for Testing Feeding Tube Placement

Although we strongly believe that PH tests are the best way to test NG and OG tube placement at home, we would also like to make you aware of other methods. One of the most common and effective ways to perform a feeding tube placement test is by using an X-ray machine. 

X-rays typically provide accurate results. However, they come with significant downsides, some of which we alluded to in the previous section. Mainly, X-rays can become quite expensive, and they are inconvenient as you’ll need to travel to a medical facility to use this method. Additionally, X-rays can expose the body to radiation that can prove to be harmful. 

Despite those downsides, X-rays remain a viable option in some cases. The same cannot be said of another testing method known as the “whoosh” test. This outdated method involves blowing air into the but and listening for a whooshing sound. 

Simply put, the “woosh” test is highly inaccurate, and you should avoid using it entirely. This method is unreliable and unsafe as it can lead to improper feeding tube use, which causes many complications, including fatalities in some instances.

Why is it Important to Test Feeding Tube Placement?

Unfortunately, a surprising amount of feeding tubes are misplaced. In fact, some studies indicate that up to 56% of tubes intended for the stomach end up elsewhere in the body. 

The problem here is that using a misplaced feeding tube has the potential to cause serious health risks. In some cases, using an improperly placed NG or OG tube can lead to death. 

Performing a feeding tube placement test is the only way to ensure the safe and proper use of an NG or OG tube. As such, if you or someone you care for uses a feeding tube, it’s crucial to find a placement testing method that you can depend on and learn when it is necessary to use it.

When to Test Feeding Tube Placement

Now that you know the importance of confirming feeding tube placement, the best method for doing so, and how to perform it, all that’s left for you to learn is the appropriate times to perform these tests. Below is a quick list of instances in which you should always test the placement of an OG or NG tube:

  • After the initial placement of the tube
  • Before using the tube for feeding or medication
  • Any time you replace or adjust the tube. 

Since most people use feeding tubes for several weeks, it is no surprise that they need to test the placement of their tubes often. Fortunately, PH tests provide a quick, accurate, and convenient way to confirm proper placement whenever you need to do so. 

Get the Best Feeding Tube Placement Test for Homecare

By now, it should be clear that using a PH test is the best way to confirm the placement of a feeding tube at home. However, not all PH testing kits are equally capable of delivering the amazing benefits we outlined in this article. 

If you are interested in using the best and most convenient PH testing kit on the market today, you should consider the RightSpotpH® Indicator. Reach out to our team at RightBio Metrics to learn more and schedule a free demo of our products today!

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