A tube is inserted through the nose or mouth, down the food pipe (esophagus), and into the stomach. Sometimes you may be given a numbing medicine to reduce irritation and gagging caused by the tube.
Stomach contents can be removed using suction right away or after spraying water through the tube.
How to prepare for the test
In an emergency, such as when a patient has swallowed poison or is vomiting blood, no preparation is needed for gastric suction.
If gastric suction is being done for testing, your doctor may ask you not to eat overnight or to stop taking certain medications.
How the test will feel
You may feel a gagging sensation as the tube is passed.
Why the test is performed
This test may be done to:
Remove poisons, harmful materials, or excess medications from the stomach
Clean the stomach before an upper endoscopy (EGD) if you have been vomiting blood
Collect stomach acid
Relieve pressure if you have a blockage in the intestines
What the risks are
Risks may include:
Breathing in contents from the stomach (this is called aspiration)
Hole (perforation) in the esophagus
Tube may be placed into the airway instead of the esophagus
Greene S, Harris C, Singer J. Gastrointestinal decontamination of the poisoned patient. Pediatr Emerg Care. 2008;24:176-178.
Todd Eisner, MD, Private practice specializing in Gastroenterology, Boca Raton, FL. Clinical Instructor, Florida Atlantic University School of Medicine. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.