Enough is enough: Radiation doses in children with gastrojejunal tubes

J Pediatr Surg. 2021 Apr;56(4):668-673. doi: 10.1016/j.jpedsurg.2020.08.006. Epub 2020 Aug 15.


Introduction: Many children with gastric feeding intolerance require postpyloric tube feeding via a gastrojejunal (GJ) tube. Placement or positioning of these tubes is typically a procedure with a low dose of radiation. Although the risk of developing cancer from radiation exposure owing to computed tomography scans is well-documented in children, the risk of cumulative radiation exposure owing to frequent GJ tube replacement often goes unnoticed in the clinical decision-making process. We sought to define the frequency and cost of GJ tube replacement, quantify the radiation doses associated with the initial placement and replacements, and assess the number of conversions to surgical jejunostomies.

Methods: All pediatric patients who underwent GJ tube placement or replacement by Interventional Radiology (IR), surgery, and gastroenterology between 2010 and 2018 at a single center were reviewed. We evaluated the total cost of the initial placement and replacement of each GJ tube, the total number of replacements, and the cumulative radiation dose (mGy).

Results: We identified 203 patients who underwent GJ tube placement and/or replacement, of which 150 had radiation data available. Patients underwent a median of five GJ tube replacement procedures, and there was a wide range in the number of replacements per patient, from zero to 88. Patients were exposed to a median cumulative dose of 6.0 mGy (IQR: 2.2, 22.6). Nine percent of patients with available radiation data were exposed to more than 50 mGy, solely from GJ tube replacements. The median cost per replacement was $1170. The sum of the cost of the replacements for dislodged GJs translated to more than $1.4 million during the study period.

Conclusions: Overall, the average dose per GJ replacement was 3.50 mGy among all patients with available data. Nine percent of patients (14/150) were exposed to greater than 50 mGy cumulative radiation solely from GJ replacements. Patients who receive more than 50 mGy of cumulative radiation dose, who undergo seven GJ tube replacements in one year, or two consecutive GJ tube replacement procedures with radiation doses exceeding 10 mGy (per replacement) should be considered for a surgical jejunostomy.

Level of evidence: IV TYPE OF STUDY: Treatment study.

Keywords: Children; Cost; Feeding tube; Gastrojejunostomy; Radiation dose.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Enteral Nutrition*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intubation, Gastrointestinal
  • Jejunostomy
  • Radiation Dosage
  • Radiation Exposure*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Stomach