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Failure of drip and suck in postoperative ileus: a faulty non-perforated NG tube
  1. David Bristow and
  2. James Shaw
  1. Anaesthetics, Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust, Shrewsbury, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr David Bristow, david.bristow{at}


A 55-year-old woman developed a postoperative ileus with associated nausea and vomiting following an elective laparotomy. A wide bore nasogastric (NG) tube was inserted for gastric decompression and symptom relief. Aspiration of the tube was unsuccessful and the patient continued to vomit. Imaging to investigate the acute abdomen demonstrated the nasogastric tube to be correctly sited and within pooled gastric contents. Gentle initial attempts were made to unblock the NG but to no avail and therefore it was removed. On inspection it was discovered that the NG tube had no distal perforations to allow drainage, causing failure and increasing the patient’s risk of aspiration. The aim of this report is draw attention to the importance of scrutinising all medical equipment prior to use to prevent avoidable and potentially serious patient harm.

  • anaesthesia
  • gastrointestinal system
  • intensive care
  • nutritional support
  • gastrointestinal surgery
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  • Contributors DB wrote the initial draft of case report, obtained images and made alterations and changes once reviews by senior colleagues. Furthermore DB finalised the manuscript and submitted the report. JS identified the educational benefit of this case report, discussed and verbally consented the case report with the patient, read and edited the report once drafted, and reported the equipment fault to the MHRA.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Patient consent for publication Obtained.

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