We examined the use of gastrostomy tubes in malnourished children with cancer as part of our ongoing efforts to improve their supportive care. Patients were examined on the basis of percentage of weight loss and percentage of desirable body weight. Twenty-five patients underwent gastrostomy tube placement followed by aggressive enteral nutritional support. Gastrostomy tubes were placed at a mean of 3.5 months (range, 0.3 to 8 months) after diagnosis; mean weight loss had been 10.1% (range, to 21%) of desirable body weight. There were no immediate postoperative complications. Gastrostomy tube feedings were well tolerated by all patients. All children gained or maintained weight, and 60% of the severely malnourished children returned to a desirable body weight after an average of 4.9 months (range, 1 to 13 months). Weight gain averaged 12.9% (range, to 45.4%) of desirable body weight. The most common complications were 38 episodes of inflammation at the gastrostomy tube site during periods of severe neutropenia, which were treated successfully with topically or orally administered antibiotics, and 13 episodes of cellulitis, which required intravenously administered antibiotics. The infection rate was 1.58 episodes per 1000 days of use compared with a rate of 5.0 per 1000 days previously reported with total parenteral nutrition. The monthly costs of gastrostomy tube nutrition support were 9% of those associated with use of total parenteral nutrition. Gastrostomy tube use in children with cancer is a safe, effective, and cost-effective method of reversing malnutrition. Further investigation with larger numbers of patients is warranted. (J PEDIATR 1995;127:58-62).
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health