There are those times, when feeding someone via g-tube, that extension tubes and/or the actual button get clogged. It is a rare day for me, lately, but just last night AND THE NIGHT BEFORE, Nat’s button got clogged.
Now while it is easy enough to replace an extension tube if you cannot get it unclogged, replacing the actual button is certainly not meant to be a daily event.
How can you tell whether it is the extension tube or the actual button? When the blockage occurs, pull back hard on the syringe plunger. If that doesn’t unclog the tubing, detach the syringe and extension tube. After it is detached, see if it is still clogged. If you are able to either pull back on the plunger or push it forward freely, then the tubing is not the problem. Before you work on the actual button, reattach the extension tube and plunger and try it again. If it is immediately clogged, then your problem is probably in the actual button.
In the picture above you see the button after it has been removed from my daughter’s stomach. Removing it is not necessary to unclog the button. Normally, though, to remove and replace the button, the syringe in the package for the new button is the one you use to deflate the balloon that keeps the button in place.
So, the syringe is inserted, in this case, in the side port, not the port where you attach the extension tube.
Well, to unclog the button, use that same syringe, filled with water, but insert it in the port where you normally attach the extension tube for feeding, like this:
Then push the water through. You may have to do it more than once to free the clog. Word of warning: You can actually break the balloon or the tubing of the g-tube. The way you’ll know is if, A) when you use the g-tube it leaks – water or food comes back out the button when you detach the extension tube. You can continue to use it this way, by just closing it quickly after feeding, but it is a bit of a pain. and, B)if you tug a little bit on the button and it comes out, then the balloon isn’t working. All sounds bad, but unclogging it is at least worth a TRY, right?
Here’s what the syringe looks like when it is not attached:
It has a nice short tip so it doesn’t break the valve inside the button.
The reason for my clog? The doctor we saw last week prescribed antibiotics IN CAPSULES! So I opened the capsules and poured them in the syringe, added water, shook and had a clog. Twice. Two days in a row. The first time I changed the button. But kept the clogged one. I worked on unclogging it and when the second button clogged last night, I replaced it with the unclogged one.
This can be a busy, busy life, eh?
If you have questions, or I haven’t been clear leave a comment or email me, ok?