Prior to the 1980s, permanent feeding tube placement was limited to an open surgical procedure until Gauderer and colleagues described the safe placement of percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) tubes. This procedure has since expanded beyond the realm of surgeons to include gastroenterologists, thoracic surgeons, and interventional radiologists. In some academic centers, interventional pulmonologists (IPs) also perform this procedure. We describe the safety and feasibility of PEG tube placement by IPs in a critically ill population.
Prospectively collected data of patients in a medical ICU undergoing PEG tube placement from 2003 to 2007 at a tertiary-care center were reviewed. Inclusion criteria included all PEG tube insertions performed or attempted by the IP team. Data were collected on mortality, PEG tube removal rate, total number of days with PEG tube, and complication rates. Follow-up included hospital length of stay and phone contact after discharge. Procedural and long-term PEG-related complications were recorded.
Seventy-two patients were studied. PEG tube insertion was completed successfully in 70 (97.2%), with follow-up data in 69 of these 70. Thirty-day mortality was 11.7%. No deaths or immediate complications were attributed to PEG tube placement. PEG tube removal occurred in 27 patients, with a median time to removal of 76 days.
Bedside PEG tube placement can be performed safely and effectively by trained IPs. Because percutaneous tracheostomy is currently performed by IPs, the ability to place both PEG and tracheostomy tubes at the same time has the potential for decreased costs, anesthesia exposure, procedural times, ventilator times, and ICU days.