A Dobhoff tube is a type of feeding tube that is inserted into a patient's nose, threaded down the esophagus and into the stomach and down to the duodenum. A doctor or nurse must place this tube inside the patient as it is not always easy to get it in the correct location. In most cases, the healthcare professional will insert the tube into the patient blind, feeling for the correct placement. In other cases, a video camera may be used to help guide the placement. After the tube has been placed, an x-ray is used to make sure it's in the right place before it's used.
In order to prepare a patient for the insertion of a Dobhoff tube, the esophagus and nasal cavity are numbed and the patient, if conscious, may be given a mild sedative. Patients are usually positioned on the right side while the tube is put into the nose. The tube is inserted into the patient's body through the nostril and allowed to descend into the gastrointestinal tract. The patient may be asked to swallow water as the tube is going down the esophagus to help prevent gagging. Depending on how far into the digestive tract the tube 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.
In many cases, a doctor or nurse will insert a Dobhoff tube by feel. Experience in placing these tubes makes many healthcare professionals quite adept at inserting and positioning them correctly. Alternatively, an endoscope may be used to see the inside of the patient's gastrointestinal tract. Though it would seem that this method would yield a greater success rate, both methods result in correct placement about 90 percent of the time.
The last thing to be done when placing a Dobhoff tube is to make sure that the tube is placed in stomach correctly. An x-ray image of the patient's stomach reveals whether the tube is in the right spot. If it is, the guide wires can be pulled out and the tube can be used to provide nutrition to the patient.