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The Nasogastric Tube

The one-thing surgeons don’t tell you about is the nasogastric tube. The nasogastric tube, other wise known as a “NG tube” is placed in your stomach after surgery. What does that mean, you might be thinking? So here’s how it goes: A doctor would insert a NG tube into your stomach to decompress any air, or fluid that is in your stomach after surgery. There are other reasons for a NG tube, but it was inserted in me for that purpose. After all of my eleven surgeries, I awoke with an NG tube.

An NG tube is placed up your nasal cavity and down in your stomach

It is a tube that is placed up your nasal cavity and down in your stomach. It is the worst feeling I have ever experienced. The tube brings up air, bile, and other stomach fluids. It drains all the yucky stuff into a canister. It is a very uncomfortable feeling, because you can feel the tube rubbing against the wall of your stomach. Also in my case, it gave me the worst sore throat!

I remember one time; the doctors were going to remove the nasogastric tube. This requires the doctors to literally pull the tube up out of your stomach, and then through your nose. Not cool! Before the doctors could remove it, they had to see how much bile was coming up per hour. If there were too much bile and stomach acid, they would not be able to remove the tube. If they did remove the tube too early, I could experience horrible nausea, bloating and vomiting. To see how I did without the NG tube, the doctors would “clamp it,” so no bile, or air would be allowed to come out of my body. If I didn’t experience any nausea, vomiting or bloating in two hours, the doctors would take the NG tube out.

Bad experiences with an NG tube

I remember during a quick two hour procedure to repair a small fistula, I woke up during the surgery. I woke up as they were inserting the nasogastric Tube. It was a horrible feeling because number one, I was loopy from the anesthesia. Number two, they were trying to keep me calm as I panicked.

The second bad experience I had was when I could not control my vomiting after they took out the Nasogastric Tube. This was after one of my surgeries. The doctors came in the room and told me the dreading words, “We have to put the tube back in.” Ugh! To put the tube in manually, I had to be awake; and because I was hypotensive, the doctors needed to invert the bed, so that the back of my head is almost touching the floor, and my feet are up in the hair. Weird right? They told me to take a few gulps of water, and keep swallowing until they said stop. I could feel the tube enter my nose and into my nasal cavity. It was a horrible feeling! The tube was in for so long, that my one nostril is actually shaped differently! No joke.

Tips for dealing with an NG tube

Keep your throat moist. Ask your doctor if you can suck on ice, or a hard candy. It will help with the discomfort. Has anybody else gone through such issues with their NG tube?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • thedancingcrohnie moderator
    11 months ago

    I’ve never had an NG tube. This sounds horrible and I’m so sorry you had to deal with it. You are such a trooper. And I can’t imagine waking up in the middle of a procedure and experiencing that!

    Always dancing,
    Elizabeth (team member)

  • SusanHU
    2 years ago

    Thank you for commenting dave-ten and civey – we’re glad to see this article resonated with you and we appreciate you sharing your thoughts and stories! Please keep us posted on your progress and know that we are here for you! – Susan ( Team Member)

  • dave-ten
    2 years ago

    The NG tube is truly an awful experience. You’ve described its discomfort very well. I had some relief from Chloraseptic, a spray-on mouth and throat wash that has some kind of benzocaine or lidocaine in it. Still, the relief lasted no more than 20 minutes or so.

    The GI doc assured me that the NG tube is universally dreaded, with IV infusions of SoluMedrol (basically prednisone) being a close second. It’s been more than 20 years since I’ve had surgery, and yet the NG tube is one of the few things that I remember vividly. Hope you never have to experience one again.

  • 2 years ago

    Once I was getting a NG tube inserted by a nursing student and half way through the procedure she panicked and stopped right in the middle of putting it in she ran out of my room to get her superior and just left me there chocking! It seemed like forever for her to come back in with her boss! So now I have anxiety about getting them.

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