Confused on NG tube content


Specializes in Medical Surgical RN. Has 2 years experience.

So I was explaining to a family member of a patient what the contents of the output were in the canister. The patient came in with small bowel obstruction, an NG tube was placed and no surgical intervention. I said it was stomach acid but another nurse was there and said it was bile. How is bile in the stomach? 

MunoRN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care. Has 10 years experience.

It's not at all surprising, and somewhat expected, for bile to reflux into the stomach from the duodenum in the case of a small bowel obstruction.

Your GI tract will respond to the obstruction by increasing fluid secretion and if all that fluid can't go the normal way it will go backwards.  

There's debate about whether it's actually beneficial, but the purpose of an NG sump tube in these patients is to empty the stomach of these refluxed fluids and contents without the patient having to vomit to achieve that.   


Specializes in retired LTC.

Muno - I do so like it when you explain things. Short, sweet. to the point, concise, sensibly understandable.