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Gastrostomy tubes: Complications and their management

Mark H DeLegge, MD, FACG, AGAF
Section Editors
John R Saltzman, MD, FACP, FACG, FASGE, AGAF
Timothy O Lipman, MD
Deputy Editor
Anne C Travis, MD, MSc, FACG, AGAF


Gastrostomy tubes may be placed endoscopically, surgically, or radiologically. Many of the complications seen with the various placement techniques are similar with similar approaches to management.

This topic will review the management of complications related to gastrostomy tube placement, with a focus on percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy tubes. The indications for gastrostomy tubes, the placement of gastrostomy tubes, the routine care of gastrostomy tubes, and the management of dysfunctioning gastrostomy tubes are discussed separately. (See "Gastrostomy tubes: Uses, patient selection, and efficacy in adults" and "Gastrostomy tubes: Placement and routine care".)


Complications of gastrostomy tube placement may be minor (wound infection, minor bleeding) or major (necrotizing fasciitis, colocutaneous fistula). Most complications are minor. The reported rates of complications following percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) tube placement vary from 16 to 70 percent [1-5]. The variable frequency of complications observed in reports in part reflects differences in the definitions used and the populations under study. Most studies have suggested that complications are more likely to occur in older adults with comorbid illnesses, particularly those with an infectious process or who have a history of aspiration [4].

Some of the studies looking at complications found the following:

In one series, complications were described in 70 percent of 97 patients, of which 88 percent were considered to be minor, including tube dislodgement, peristomal wound leakage, and PEG wound infection [1].


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Literature review current through: Sep 2016. | This topic last updated: Apr 15, 2015.
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