Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

What can I do to aid the accuracy of X-rays in checking NG tube positioning?

  • Comment

Key points

  1. The position of a nasogastric tube is vitally important as accidental administration of feed into the lungs can lead to fatal complications
  2. The gold standard method of detecting the position of nasogastric tubes is by X-ray, but this is not used routinely due to the risk of radiation exposure, cost and delay in feeding
  3. X-ray is indicated when the tube’s position cannot be confirmed by aspiration
  4. A recent National Patient Safety Agency (2011) alert drew attention to the risk of misinterpretation of X-rays used to confirm the position of a nasogastric tube
  5. All staff who may request or interpret X-ray images of nasogastric tube positions must be trained and assessed as competent

Let’s discuss

  • What are the risks associated with using a misplaced nasogastric tube?
  • What is the first line method, recommended in this article, for checking the position of a nasogastric tube?
  • When should x-rays be used to confirm the position of a nasogastric tube? What risks are associated with using x-ray?
  • The audit reported in this article found that 21% of nasogastric tubes were in the oesophagus.
  • What pH test result would you expect from aspirate obtained from the oesophagus? What method can you use to estimate the length of tube that should be inserted in order to reach the stomach?
  • Who should interpret X-ray results and what training is recommended?

You can email questions to or tweet @eileenshepherd

Participating in NT Clinical Chats can contribute to you CPD. Here is how to get the most out of Clinical Chats:

  • Look at the topic in advance of the chat and plan questions you would like to ask
  • Participate in the chat by posting questions or comments
  • Download the transcript after the chat as evidence of your participation. This will be available here after the webchat
  • Write a reflection on what you have learned and how you could use this information in clinical practice, to store in your portfolio.
  • Comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment.

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.