Whether you’re a concerned parent or a medical equipment procurement manager, it’s natural to feel a bit overwhelmed when you first set foot in a NICU. It can be daunting to see all those tubes, machines, and other pieces of NICU medical equipment without knowing what they are or why they’re there. This article sheds some light on the different types of feeding tubes, collectively known as enteral devices, that you might find in the NICU.
What Are Enteral Devices?
Enteral devices are tubes used for enteral feeding. Although enteral feeding broadly refers to the intake of food through the gastrointestinal (GI) tract — which includes the mouth, esophagus, stomach, and intestines — in a medical setting, enteral feeding typically refers to tube feeding.
Tube feeding is used if a patient’s GI tract is functional, but they aren’t able to receive enough nutrients through normal eating. In these cases, an enteral device is inserted into their GI tract and used to feed them so they receive enough calories to stay healthy. Patients recovering from strokes, cancers, critical illnesses or injuries, and neurological or movement disorders often require enteral devices. Enteral devices are also frequently used in the NICU when an infant is unable to engage in normal feeding.
Types of Enteral Devices
“Enteral devices” is actually an umbrella term that includes a variety of feeding tubes that differ based on their method of insertion and long-term functionality. Common examples include orogastric tubes, nasoenteric tubes, oroenteric tubes, and jejunostomy tubes. Two of the most common enteral devices found in the NICU are nasogastric (NG) tubes and percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) tubes.
NG Tubes: These enteral devices are used when a patient can’t swallow or eat. During the nasogastric intubation process, a thin plastic tube is inserted through the patient’s nostril, down their esophagus, and into their stomach. Once it’s in place, the NG tube can be used to give the patient nutrition or medication and to remove substances from their stomach as needed. Since the NG tube is a short-term tube, it can only stay in place for four to six weeks before it needs to be replaced with a long-term tube.
PEG Tubes: PEG tubes take their name from the percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy procedure used to insert them. During this procedure, a doctor creates a small opening through the skin of the upper abdomen and into the stomach. The doctor then places a secure feeding tube in the hole to deliver fluids, nutrition, and medication directly into the patient’s stomach, bypassing their mouth and esophagus. Unlike NG tubes, PEG tubes are a long-term enteral device that can remain in place for years.
Introducing the ENFit® Feeding System
The ENFit® system is the latest breakthrough in enteral feeding technology. ENFit® products are designed to increase the safety of enteral feeding and improve patient outcomes, particularly in the NICU. ENFit® products have a design feature called a “force function” that ensures they’re compatible with the appropriate enteral devices and only those enteral devices. This feature dramatically reduces the risk of accidental misconnections and minimizes opportunities for human error that could cause serious harm to patients.
Embracing the Transition to ENFit®
As ENFit® products become the new industry standard, procurement managers should start thinking about shifting to the ENFit® system. At Kentec Medical, we can help you bring ENFit® products into your hospital and start improving your patient outcomes. Our commitment to customer service means you’ll be getting a partner who is always ready to help you overcome any challenges you may encounter during your transition.
If you’re interested in learning more about how Kentec Medical can help you adopt ENFit®, contact us today.