Percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy: Strategies for prevention and management of complications

Ho Sheng Lin, Hani Z. Ibrahim, Jennifer W. Kheng, Willard E. Fee, David J. Terris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

83 Scopus citations


Objective: The placement of percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) tubes is within the realm of the head and neck surgeon because most are proficient in the use of rigid and flexible esophagoscopes. The ability to provide comprehensive care for the patient with head and neck cancer provides further incentive for the head and neck surgeon to adopt this technique. Although it is a technically simple procedure, the surgeon must be aware of the range of complications that can occur with PEG. We review our experience with PEG focusing on the complications as well as strategies for the prevention and management of these complications. Methods: A retrospective review of the records of patients who underwent PEG at Stanford University by the Head and Neck Surgery Service between July 1992 and December 1998 was conducted. A total of 103 patients were identified, of which 84 (82%) were patients with head and neck cancers. Complications associated with PEG were identified. All PEGs were performed using the pull technique. Results: There was no mortality associated with the procedure. Minor complications occurred in 11 cases (10.7%). These included cellulitis (4), ileus (3), tube extrusion (1), clogged lumen (1), and peristomal leakage (2). The only major complication was a single case of PEG site metastasis. Conclusion: The review of our experience with PEG tube placement revealed a low complication rate. Safe PEG placement was achieved by transillumination of the abdominal wall and confirmation by ballottement. In addition, appropriate patient selection, use of perioperative antibiotics, as well as meticulous post-procedure care contributed to the low rate of complications. For the patients with head and neck cancer, a barrier should be placed between the tumor and the instrumentation at the time of tube placement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1847-1852
Number of pages6
Issue number10
StatePublished - Jan 1 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Complications
  • Head and neck cancer
  • PEG site metastasis
  • Percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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