Why is Accurate NG/OG Tube Placement Especially Critical for Neonates in the NICU?

It is impossible to deny that testing the placement of a nasogastric (NG) or orogastric (OG) tube is essential. However, this process becomes even more important when caring for a neonate that depends on one of these feeding tubes. 

In this article, we’ll highlight the general importance of feeding tube confirmation tests and highlight some of the reasons why this is specifically crucial for neonates. We’ll also introduce you to one of the best feeding tube testing methods before the article ends. 

What is an NG/OG Feeding Tube? 

NG and OG feeding tubes are useful devices any time a patient does not have the ability to ingest food, fluids, and/or medication normally. In such cases, feeding tubes provide a quick and convenient way to deliver the liquids and nutrients that a patient requires. 

Both NG and OG tubes serve the same purpose, but they have one key difference. While NG tubes are inserted via the nasal passage, OG tubes enter the body via the oral cavity. After insertion, both these tubes reach the stomach. However, if proper placement does not take place, it is entirely unsafe to use an NG or OG feeding tube. 

Why is it Vital to Test Feeding Tube Placement?

The importance of testing feeding tube placement cannot be understated. The list below reveals a few specific reasons why placement confirmation is so critical:

  • Many feeding tubes are misplaced
  • Misplaced feeding tubes can cause serious medical complications
  • Using a misplaced feeding tube can be fatal. 

Why NG/OG Tube Placement Tests Are Especially Important for Neonates

Testing the placement of a feeding tube is not just important in a general sense. This practice is particularly essential when neonates depend on feeding tubes to receive the sustenance and medication they need. 

Part of the reason for this is that neonate feeding tube misplacement is incredibly common. Some studies estimate that 25% of hospitalized children require an NG tube. Shockingly, more than half of the feeding tubes that pediatric and neonatal patients receive are improperly placed. 

Improper placement prevents the correct use of the neonatal feeding tube. As such, it is vital to have a dependable feeding tube placement test method for all NICU employees. 

NG/OG Feeding Tube Placement Test Methods

There are multiple ways to confirm the placement of an NG or OG tube. However, not all methods are as effective as others. As the sections below will show, there are certain methods you should prefer and some you should avoid entirely. 


Using an X-ray machine is one of the most common ways to confirm the placement of a feeding tube. Fortunately, using X-rays usually provides accurate results. However, this approach has some significant downsides. 

First, using an X-ray requires a patient to access a medical facility with the necessary testing equipment and knowledgeable personnel. Not only does this require a significant amount of time, but it also becomes expensive when a patient requires multiple tests. 

Additionally, X-ray machines expose the body to radiation. This can have harmful side effects that are worth avoiding. 

Whoosh Test

The whoosh test is an old-fashioned feeding tube placement method that we–as well as several leading healthcare organizations–recommend avoiding in all cases. This process involves blowing air into the tube and waiting for a certain sound that indicates tube placement. 

Unfortunately, the whoosh test is highly inaccurate and can lead to serious complications. As such, you should never attempt the whoosh test to confirm the placement of an NG or OG feeding tube. 

pH Testing Kits

The ideal testing method for confirming the placement of an NG or OG feeding tube is to test with pH. Compared to other common placement testing methods, pH testing kits have several distinct advantages. 

pH tests are quick and convenient and provide accurate results in a short amount of time. As such, whether you are an NICU worker or someone using a feeding tube at home, pH tests are the way to go when it comes time to confirm feeding tube placement. 

Why Are pH Tests the Best Placement Testing Method?

The previous section reveals the fact that pH testing kits are the best for confirming the placement of a feeding tube. However, we feel it is necessary to expand on the reasons why that is the case. The list below proves why you should use pH testing kits every time you need to test tube placement:

  • Accuracy: The best pH testing kits provide results that are highly accurate and dependable in nearly every case. 
  • Affordability: pH testing kits tend to be less expensive, especially when compared to repeated use of an X-ray machine. 
  • Ease of use: Whether you have extensive medical experience or not, a pH test is easy to use and read. 
  • Quick results: There is no need to wait when using a pH test to confirm feeding tube placement. You’ll receive results almost immediately. 
  • No radiation: Unlike X-ray machines, pH tests do not expose the body to any potentially harmful radiation. 

The Best NG/OG Feeding Tube Placement Test for Neonates

We’ve already noted the fact that pH tests are ideal for testing feeding tube placement in neonates. However, not all pH tests are equally capable of providing the benefits we mentioned. The ideal pH test to use for neonates who depend on a feeding tube is the RightSpotpH® SmallBore. This revolutionary testing device ensures accurate results and should become your go-to option any time you need to confirm feeding tube placement. 

Get pH Testing Devices from RightBio Metrics 

When you need a highly reliable pH testing kit for NG/OG tube placement confirmation in neonates, you should find the company that provides the best products. At RightBio Metrics, we provide top-of-the-line pH testing kits that you should know about if you are a caregiver on the NICU. Contact us today to schedule a free demo to learn more about what we offer. 

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