Unclogging G-Tubes and Extensions


Medical G-tubes and extension tubes used for feeding may get clogged when a child is fed blended meals.  This is no reason for panic. No trip to the emergency room or doctor required!  (Whew!)  A couple of very useful tools are a glass of water and a strainer.  

A clog is evident when the syringe plunger  stops moving despite pressure.

  • The first step is to pull back on the plunger and try again.  Sometimes the food will then just flow through the tube without difficulty. 
  • If the clog persists, keep the syringe attached to the extension tube, but disengage the feeding tube extension from the g-tube button.  Put the end of the extension tube into a glass of water. NOW pull back on the plunger. Use as much strength as is required until water is pulled into the extension tube. Now the extension tube is unplugged! 
    • If this was ridiculously easy, it MAY be that the actual g-tube inserted through the stomach wall is plugged.  We’ll get to that in a minute.
    • Detach the extension tube from the syringe and push the water out through the syringe into a strainer (over a sink). You’ll see the clog culprit after the water drains out. Resume feeding without having to discard feeding tube, formula, or syringe. 
    • If clogs persist with that recipe, re-blenderize that container of food.  Do not frustrate yourself by continuing to feed. Life with g-tubes is hard enough without wishful thinking! 

Here are some photos to help you  understand the instructions: 

 

2 ounce syringe and extension tube 

2 ounce syringe and extension tube

 

syringe, tube, water 

syringe, tube, water

 

A plugged g-tube is a rare event. For me it has only occurred when I have tried to hard to push formula through that was not flowing well.

If the g-tube itself is plugged I have succeeded in unplugging it by re-attaching the extension tube (shown in photo) to the g-tube. Then attach a large (2 ounce or 60 ml) syringe to the extension tube. Pull back on the syringe plunger in order to create a vacuum within the syringe. I do this as hard as I am able for as long as I am able. If blended food begins to flow back into the tube and syringe, it is very likely the g-tube is unplugged! Detach the extension tube from the g-tube, and detach the syringe. Empty the syringe into a strainer if you want to see the clogging culprit. Be sure to fully rinse the tube and syringe before returning them to use.

If the preceding methods do not work, try this:

  • Fill your 2 ounce syringe with water and attach it to the OPPOSITE end of the extension tube. Go over to the sink and push hard on the syringe plunger. Use your muscles! It can take more than one attempt and it can take real effort, but this method gets out the most stubborn clogs. Like this:

 

unclog g-tube 

unclog g-tube

 

 

Of course blending thoroughly will avoid clogs altogether,  but there is no magic light that comes on indicating “all pieces fully pulverized” (at least not on MY blender!) so it is a guessing game.  

As a caregiver, your efforts are heroic!  A little clog can’t stop you!

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One thought on “Unclogging G-Tubes and Extensions

  1. There are larger feeding tubes available (Bolus Extension) which are easier to use, easier to clean, and last longer than the tubes which are provided with the mic-key button. They are Kimberley-Clark ref # 0123-12.

    Also, I discovered that if you fill the extension tube up with Coca-Cola and leave it for a couple of hours, it’s slick as a whistle when you rinse it out. (No, I wasn’t giving my daughter Coc-Cola !)

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