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Nasogastric Intubation

What you should know

  • Nasogastric intubation is a procedure to insert a nasogastric (NG) tube into your nose down into your stomach. An NG tube is a long, thin, bendable plastic or rubber tube with holes at both ends. Depending on the type of NG tube, it may help remove air or excess fluids out of the stomach. It may also be used as a way to bring food to your stomach. Medicines and other substances, such as activated charcoal or dye, may also be given through an NG tube. Use of this tube should only be temporary (short time).
  • You may need an NG tube if your stomach gets too full or if you throw up a lot after surgery. An NG tube may also be useful in food poisoning or drug overdose. Sometimes, an NG tube is placed to get samples of fluid from the stomach for testing. This is done particularly if caregivers want to check for bleeding.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.


Having a nasogastric intubation may carry certain risks. There may be bleeding, infection, or injury to the parts where the tube will pass through. The tube may enter the wrong place, such as the lungs, and cause breathing problems. If part of the skull (head) is broken, the tube may enter the brain. Medicines, including anesthesia, that are used during the procedure may cause an allergy. Over time, the NG tube may move which may lead to lung problems or indigestion. Patients with a head injury, nose or esophagus problems, or problems swallowing are at a higher risk for problems. You may not have an NG tube if you just had an injury to your upper jaw or face. Patients who cannot cooperate or are not conscious may also not have an NG tube. Talk with your caregiver if you are worried or have questions about your procedure, medicine, or care.

Getting Ready

Before your procedure:

  • Tell your caregiver if you are taking any medicine that may make you more likely to bleed. These medicines may include aspirin, clot busters, or blood thinners.
  • Tell your caregiver if you have any allergies. This includes an allergy to a cleansing solution, such as iodine, or any numbing medicine.
  • Tell your caregiver if you have a blood disorder or have had a bleeding problem in the past.
  • Tell your caregiver if you have had a problem or surgery in your nose or esophagus.
  • You may need blood tests before your procedure. Talk to your caregiver about these or other tests you may need. Write down the date, time and location for each test.
  • You or a close family member will be asked to sign a legal piece of paper (consent form). It gives your caregiver permission to do the procedure. Before giving your consent, make sure all your questions have been answered so that you understand what may happen.


What will happen:

  • You will be asked to sit up. You may be given medicine to numb the area where the NG tube will pass through. Medicine to make the blood vessels in your nose get smaller and prevent bleeding may also be given. Your caregiver will measure the length of the tube needed to reach your stomach. Sterile (clean) jelly or water will be placed around the end of the tube to help it slide down. A nasendoscope (a long thin tube passed through the nose and down into the esophagus) may be used as guide.
  • The NG tube will be gently put into your nostril and pushed down into your stomach. You may cough or feel like throwing up as the tube reaches your throat. Taking sips of water and tilting your head forward may help the tube pass through this area. When the desired length of the tube is inserted, your caregiver will check if the tube is in the proper place. He may blow some air into the tube, or take some fluids and check it. An x-ray of the abdomen (stomach) may also be done. The tube will then be taped to your nose to keep it in place. The part of the tube that is hanging down will be pinned to your clothing.

After your procedure:

Different devices may be attached to the NG tube, depending on why you need the tube. A suction (vacuum) or feeding pump may be connected to it. While the tube is inserted, caregivers will check on the tube regularly to make sure it stays in place. Your skin, abdomen, and vital signs (temperature, blood pressure, breathing, and pulse) will be checked often.

Waiting area:

This is an area where your family and friends can wait until you are able to have visitors. Ask your visitors to provide a way to reach them if they leave the waiting area.

Contact a caregiver if

  • You have a fever.
  • You have questions or concerns about your procedure.

Seek Care Immediately if

  • You have trouble breathing.
  • Your signs and symptoms are getting worse.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.