A team from Jacksonville, Florida, USA, assessed the outcome of prophylactically placed gastrostomy feeding tubes in patients with head and neck cancer.
A total of 54 patients (40 men; mean age 69 years), who were treated at the authors' institution between 1995 and 1999, were included in the study.
Data was collected retrospectively from the patients' medical records. This included demographics, duration of tube use, and complications associated with placement.
Of the patients, 31 were treated with surgery and radiotherapy; 17 with only radiotherapy; and 6 with chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery.
|Limited complications associated with gastrostomy tube placement before radiotherapy.|
|Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology|
The gastrostomy tube was placed before initiation of radiation treatment in 41 patients and after treatment in 13.
The method of placement included pull technique (n = 41), introducer technique (n = 10), and surgical (n = 3).
Of those who had a tube placed after treatment, 4 required hospitalization for dehydration. However, no hospitalizations were needed in the prophylactic group.
The researchers found that the median duration of tube use was 165 days. Only 3 patients had a complication directly related to placement.
Dr James S. Scolapio, of the Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville, concluded on behalf of his group, "Gastrostomy tube placement before treatment is appropriate, given the median number of days required for use and limited complications associated with placement."