Background: To prevent malnutrition and food aspiration in children with chronic neuromuscular problems, enteral nutrition provided by gastrostomy is recommended. Long-term follow-up data about surgical and medical complications of PEG are available, but few papers have addressed all of the issues in the same series.
Methods: This retrospective study enrolled patients under 18 years who had a gastrostomy tube placed at our institution between 2003 and 2017. The aim is to evaluate outcomes after gastrostomy placement, focusing both on surgical complications (early and late), and its effect on their nutritional status, on the prevention of pulmonary infections, and their parents' opinion.
Results: Eighty-four gastrostomies were placed in total (35 F; 49 M). Seventy-seven patients had a severe neurocognitive impairment (GMFCS 5). The principal indication for gastrostomy was severe dysphagia (53.3%). No gastrostomy-related death was observed. Early surgical complications were observed in five of 84 (5,9%) patients; late complications were observed in 15 of 84 (17.8%) patients. Twenty-two patients were diagnosed with subsequent gastroesophageal reflux; five patients developed dumping syndrome (6%). Complete medical follow-up data were available for 45 patients. A progressive improvement of nutritional status was observed in 29 patients, and 11 maintained the same percentile; the occurrence of respiratory infections and need for hospitalization decreased. In 90% of cases, parents were fully satisfied with the g-tube.
Conclusion: This study confirms the positive nutritional outcomes of gastrostomy-tube with an associated small risk of surgical complications and a reduction in the number of respiratory infections, with most parents scoring their experience as positive.
Keywords: children; neuromuscular disease; percutaneous gastrostomy.