tube feeding dye?

  1. just recently this topic came up during a chat.... i see dye in tube feedings once in a blue moon at my hospital. do you guys use dye? does anyone know of a nursing article on this subject? i checked out my hospital's policy and procedures but couldn't find anything on this topic. i think it would be interesting to take it to our nursing research and get some sort of policy initiated.
  2. Poll: tube feeding dye?

    • yes

      44.93% 31
    • no

      49.28% 34
    • unsure

      5.80% 4
    69 Votes
  3. Visit shannonRN profile page

    About shannonRN

    Joined: Oct '01; Posts: 523; Likes: 37
    onc/heme rn


  4. by   MollyMo
    I thought tube feed dye was a pain until I started suctioning blue secretions from a tracheal tube. The patient had aspirated big time.
  5. by   Fgr8Out
    Our Policy is dye for NG/Dobhoff feedings... dye for other types of tube feeding if the physician writes for it. We now have tubing that comes with a small dye tablet in it... you don't even have to think about adding... it's automatic.

    I'm with Molly... when you've got visible proof for using dye... you're thankful you have.
  6. by   karenelizabeth
    We don't we just check the tube before giving the feed we give bolus feeds 99% of the time, and its usually only longterm pegs that occasionally get fed bu pump.

    I have used ribena (pink kids drink don't know if you have in the US) to colour first few bottle feeds for infant with traci so we knew they were swallowing not asperating.

    On a personal note as someone who has to be really careful what she eats due to alergies to food aditives, routing use would worry me cos so many things bring on my asthma
  7. by   Vsummer1
    I was just studying and did a search for tube feed and this thread came up. According to my book,

    "addition of blue food coloring to enteral formula (0.2/250 ml) assists with the detection of formula aspirated into the lung, presumably by staining the tracheobronchial secretions. However, the absence of blue-stained tracheobronchial secretions does not rule out pulmonary aspiration".

    "although many authors indicate that using glucose strips to test for glucose in fluid suctioned from the tracheobronchial tree of intubated tube-fed clients is superiror to adding blue food dye to the formula and observing for dye-stained secretions, it was found that 73% of the respondents perferred the dye method. Presumably this was because it is easier to perform. Although the dye method is most frequently used, there is little consensus as to the amount of dye needed....further research is required to identify the most effective bedside protocols for identifying pulmonary aspiration of enteral feedings"
  8. by   misti_z!!! :d
  9. by   kittyw
    The one ICU where I did my rotation at used to put dye in the tube feedings ... until one shipment of dye was red.
  10. by   shoppingsuel
    Within the last year I read an article in a nursing magazine the dye in tube feedings was contraindicated in patients with sepsis but I don't know which magizine. Has anyone else read this?
  11. by   tracylong
    i have attached the advisory that i read regarding blue food coloring. if we suspect aspiration of tube feeding, we tint one bag only...

    fda public health advisory

    subject: reports of blue discoloration and death in patients receiving enteral feedings tinted with the dye, fd&c blue no. 1

    dear health care professional:

    the food and drug administration (fda) would like you to be aware of several reports of toxicity, including death, temporally associated with the use of fd&c blue no. 1 (blue 1) in enteral feeding solutions. in these reports, blue 1 was intended to help in the detection and/or monitoring of pulmonary aspiration in patients being fed by an enteral feeding tube. reported episodes were manifested by blue discoloration of the skin, urine, feces, or serum and some were associated with serious complications such as refractory hypotension, metabolic acidosis and death. case reports indicate that seriously ill patients, particularly those with a likely increase in gut permeability (e.g., patients with sepsis), may be at greater risk for these complications. because these events were reported voluntarily from a population of unknown size, it is not possible to establish the incidence of these episodes.

    a causal relationship between systemic absorption of blue 1 and the reported serious and life-threatening patient outcomes (including death) has not been definitively established. indeed, it would be very difficult to establish a clear, causal relationship in the setting of complex medical issues often seen in patients receiving feedings via enteral tubes. however, in vitro evidence that blue 1 can be a mitochondrial toxin lends plausibility to the idea that blue 1 could cause these kinds of serious adverse effects if significant or persistent serum levels of the dye were to occur. from the reports, it appears that neither the concentration nor the total amount of blue 1 used in the enteral feeding solutions was unusually high compared to other patients in whom no toxicity was observed. thus, if there is a causal relationship between the dye and the serious outcomes, there could be underlying patient-related factor(s) that allow significant absorption of blue 1 in some enterally fed patients.

    while we are not able at this time to establish a cause-and-effect relationship between the reported serious and life-threatening patient outcomes and the use of the dye, nonetheless, given the seriousness of the potential complications, we believe health care professionals should be notified of these reports.

    as background, fd&c blue no. 1 is a water-soluble dye allowed by the fda for use in foods, drugs and cosmetics, based on numerous studies in animals. data from life-exposure animal studies supports an adi (acceptable daily intake) of blue 1 of 12.0 milligrams/kilogram body weight/day. the dye is batch certified by the fda and is widely used in food products (candies, confections, beverages, etc.) in amounts consistent with good manufacturing practices (generally at parts per million). there have been no reports of toxicity associated with this general use. toxicity has been reported only in association with blue 1 tinting of enteral feedings, intended as a means of visually detecting pulmonary aspiration. this use, although a common practice for nearly 30 years, has never been evaluated by the fda for safety or utility (i.e., there has been no evaluation by the fda of the sensitivity and specificity of its use in this manner).

    summary of reports

    • as of september, 2003, the fda is aware of 20 cases from the scientific literature or in fda post-marketing adverse event reports associating the use of blue dye in tube feedings with blue discoloration of body fluids and skin, as well as more serious complications. there have been 12 reported deaths and one case with an unknown outcome.
    • in more than 75% of all reported cases, patients had a reported history of sepsis (and therefore likely altered gut permeability) before or during systemic absorption of blue 1.
    • time of onset of toxicity from first use of blue 1 varied from several hours to 20 days of continuous use in enteral feedings.
    at this time, the fda believes practitioners should be aware of the following points:

    • use of blue 1-tinted enteral feedings for detecting aspiration has been associated with several serious adverse events, including death, although a direct causal relationship has not been definitely established.
    • the safety of blue 1-tinted enteral feedings for detecting aspiration has not been documented.
    • based on the reports received to date, patients at risk for increased intestinal permeability, which includes those with sepsis, burns, trauma, shock, surgical interventions, renal failure, celiac sprue, or inflammatory bowel disease, appear to be at increased risk of absorbing blue 1 from tinted enteral feedings.
    • in addition to the possibility of systemic toxicity, blue 1-tinted enteral feedings may interfere with diagnostic stool examinations, such as the hemoccult test.
    • other blue dyes, such as methylene blue and fd&c blue no. 2, may have similar if not greater toxicity potential than blue 1 and would not be appropriate replacements.
    the fda will continue to closely monitor reports for additional events. we encourage all health professionals to report any serious adverse events occurring with blue 1-tinted enteral feedings to the fda's medwatch program at 1-800-fda-1088 tel, 1-800-fda-0178 fax, or online at additional information on color additives, in general, may be accessed at

    sincerely yours,

    david w. k. acheson, md
    chief medical officer
    center for food safety and applied nutrition
    food and drug administration
  12. by   akcarmean
    The child I take care of in HH have a mic 24F feeding tube, in the 4 years I have been on the case we have never used dye.

  13. by   talaxandra
    interesting article, tracy (and interesting thread, shannon ).
    we use blue dye in one-off bags for patients with ng feeds who are suspected to be at risk for aspiration. we usually inject about 4ml of colour to a 750ml bag of feed, making it a distinct blue/green, though someone went overboard a couple of weeks ago and we had four days of cleaning up bright green poo!
    i really don't like the idea of it as a routine additive, for all the reasons previously mentioned.
    i prefer dye over testing suctioned secretions because i've had several patients who had silent chests but blue tongues. for those aussies on the list yep, just like the lizards!
  14. by   Nurse Ratched
    In the two years since this thread was originally posted, dye has gone by the wayside in my facility. I was under the impression that the manufacturer discontinued it.
  15. by   zambezi
    Dye also went by the wayside about one year ago in my facility. We can use it if we "have" to--pt has a high risk of aspiration, we think they are aspirating, etc...but I haven't seen it used at all since it was taken away on recommendation of the intensivists.