Logo site
Logo site

Nasogastric Tube (NG Tube) Guide for Nurses: Everything You Need to Know

This article was written in collaboration with Christine T. and ChatGPT, our little helper developed by OpenAI.

Nasogastric Tube (NG Tube) Guide for Nurses


A nasogastric tube (NG tube) is a flexible tube that is inserted through the nose, down the esophagus, and into the stomach. It is used for various purposes, including feeding, administering medications, and draining stomach contents.

Related Terms

  • Enteral Feeding: The process of providing nutrition directly into the gastrointestinal tract through a tube, such as an NG tube.
  • Gastric Decompression: The removal of stomach contents, usually gas or fluids, through an NG tube to relieve pressure or treat conditions such as bowel obstruction.
  • Aspiration: The accidental inhalation of stomach contents into the respiratory tract, which can be a complication of NG tube placement.

Synonyms, Definitions, and Examples

Synonym Definition Example
Nasal Gastric Tube An alternative term for the nasogastric tube, emphasizing the route through the nose and into the stomach. A patient with swallowing difficulties may require a nasal gastric tube for feeding.
Ryles Tube A specific type of nasogastric tube commonly used for stomach decompression. A patient with a bowel obstruction may have a Ryles tube inserted to relieve pressure in their stomach.
Stomach Tube A general term for a tube that is inserted into the stomach, including nasogastric tubes. After surgery, a patient may require a stomach tube to prevent vomiting and aspiration.

Assessment Techniques and Tools

Nurses play a critical role in the assessment and management of patients with NG tubes. Assessment techniques and tools include:

  • Confirming the correct placement of the NG tube using x-ray or other approved methods, such as pH testing or auscultation of air insufflation.
  • Monitoring the patient’s vital signs, respiratory status, and comfort level.
  • Inspecting the insertion site for signs of irritation, infection, or other complications.
  • Ensuring the tube is secured properly and checking for any signs of dislodgement or kinking.
  • Assessing the patient’s tolerance to feedings, medications, or gastric decompression by monitoring for symptoms such as abdominal distention, nausea, or vomiting.

Assessment Frameworks

Several nursing assessment frameworks, such as the ABCDE (Airway, Breathing, Circulation, Disability, Exposure) approach, can guide nurses in evaluating patients with NG tubes. These frameworks help ensure comprehensive and systematic assessments, identifying potential issues and complications early.

Assessment Documentation

Proper documentation of the assessment and management of patients with NG tubes is essential for effective communication among healthcare providers and for legal purposes. Key aspects to document include:

  • Date and time of NG tube insertion, confirmation of placement, and any repositioning.
  • Type and size of the NG tube.
  • Patient’s vital signs, respiratory status, and comfort level during the assessment.
  • Integrity of the insertion site and any signs of complications.
  • Volume, consistency, and color of stomach contents, if applicable.
  • Patient’s tolerance to feedings, medications, or gastric decompression procedures.

Legal and Ethical Considerations

When caring for patients with NG tubes, nurses must adhere to legal and ethical principles, such as obtaining informed consent, ensuring patient privacy and confidentiality (in accordance with HIPAA), and following institutional protocols and guidelines. Nurses should also be aware of their scope of practice and seek assistance from more experienced colleagues or physicians when necessary.

Real-Life Examples or Case Studies

Case Study 1: A 70-year-old patient with a history of stroke and dysphagia requires an NG tube for enteral feeding. The nurse ensures proper placement, secures the tube, and begins the feeding at the prescribed rate. The nurse monitors the patient’s vital signs and tolerance to the feeding and documents all relevant information.

Case Study 2: A patient who recently underwent abdominal surgery develops a bowel obstruction and requires a nasogastric tube for gastric decompression. The nurse inserts the tube, confirms its placement, and initiates gastric decompression according to the physician’s orders. The nurse assesses the patient’s vital signs and comfort level and documents the volume and consistency of the drained stomach contents.

Resources and References

For further information on NG tubes, consult the following resources:

  • Textbooks and reference manuals on medical-surgical nursing or critical care nursing.
  • Online resources, such as nursing websites, blogs, or discussion forums dedicated to the topic.
  • Evidence-based practice articles, research studies, and guidelines from professional organizations.


Nurses play a vital role in the care of patients with nasogastric tubes. By understanding the essential aspects of NG tube management, nurses can help ensure patient safety, comfort, and optimal outcomes. This comprehensive guide provides an overview of the key concepts, assessment techniques, and legal and ethical considerations related to NG tubes, serving as a valuable resource for both novice and experienced nurses alike.