Point-of-Care Ultrasound for Confirmation of Nasogastric and Orogastric Tube Placement in Pediatric Patients

Pediatr Emerg Care. 2020 Jun 16. doi: 10.1097/PEC.0000000000002134. Online ahead of print.


Objectives: The aim of the study was to investigate the role of point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) as an alternative imaging modality to confirm proper placement for nasogastric tubes (NGTs) and orogastric tubes (OGTs) in pediatric patients.

Methods: This was a prospective descriptive study performed at a tertiary care free-standing children's hospital. Patients 21 years and younger requiring radiographic confirmation of NGT or OGT placement were eligible for enrollment. Bedside ultrasonography examination of the epigastric area was performed by a blinded pediatric emergency medicine physician. An abdominal radiograph was obtained to confirm NGT or OGT placement in all patients.

Results: A total of 26 patients with a mean age of 2.6 years (standard deviation, 3.9 years) were enrolled. All 26 patients had x-ray confirmation of NGT and OGTs correctly placed in the stomach. Confirmation of NGT or OGT placement by ultrasound was obtained in 23 patients. For these 23 patients, POCUS agreed with radiographic findings. For 3 patients, the NGT and OGT was unable to be identified by ultrasound. The sensitivity of ultrasound for detecting a properly placed tube was 88% (95% confidence interval, 70.0%-97.6%).

Conclusions: This pilot study described ultrasound confirmation of NGT or OGT placement. If confirmed in larger studies, POCUS can be used as an objective tool for the confirmation of NGT or OGT placement in pediatric patients and limit the need for routine x-ray confirmation.