What is involved in placing a Dobhoff tube?

A Dobhoff tube should only be inserted by an experienced medical professional.

A Dobhoff tube is a type of feeding tube that is inserted into the patient’s nose, threaded down the esophagus and stomach, and down into the duodenum. The doctor or nurse must place this tube inside the patient as it is not always easy to place it in the right place. In most cases, the healthcare professional will insert the tube into the patient blindly, feeling for correct placement. In other cases, a video camera can be used to help guide placement. After the tube has been placed, an x-ray is used to verify that it is in the right place before it is used.

An X-ray can ensure that the Dobhoff tube has been placed correctly.

In order to prepare a patient for insertion of a Dobhoff tube, the esophagus and nasal cavity are anesthetized and the patient, if conscious, may be given a mild sedative. Patients are usually positioned on the right side while the tube is placed in the nose. The tube is inserted into the patient’s body through the nostril and can go down into the gastrointestinal tract. The patient may be asked to swallow water as the tube travels down the esophagus to help prevent choking. Depending on how far the gut needs to extend, the patient may also be given medication to relax the valves that block the stomach from the esophagus and intestinal tract, making it easier to move the Dobhoff tube through these areas.

Flexible endoscopes can easily navigate the twists and turns of a person’s gastrointestinal tract.

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In many cases, a doctor or nurse will insert a Dobhoff tube by touch. Experience in placing these tubes makes many healthcare professionals quite adept at inserting and positioning them correctly. Alternatively, an endoscope can be used to view the inside of the patient’s gastrointestinal tract. While it appears that this method would yield a higher success rate, both methods result in correct placement about 90 percent of the time.

Patients are usually given a sedative and local anesthesia before the Dobhoff tube is placed.

The last thing to do when placing a Dobhoff tube is to make sure the tube is placed correctly in the stomach. An X-ray image of the patient’s stomach reveals whether the tube is in the right place. If it is, the guidewires can be pulled and the tube can be used to provide nutrition to the patient.

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