TYPES OF NASOGASTRIC TUBES
The first nasogastric tubes were made of soft rubber. Recently, tubes have been
made of silastic and polyethylene compounds. These tubes can be inserted more
easily and also cause fewer medical problems for the patient. There are fewer
instances of inflamed tissues. With the exception of this change, nasogastric tubes are
very much the same today as they have been for the last three decades. The most
commonly used nasogastric tube is the Levin tube. Other nasogastric tubes include the
Salem-sump tube, the Miller-Abbott tube, and the Cantor tube.
a. The Levin Tube. The actual tubing is referred to as lumen. The Levin tube
is a one-lumen nasogastric tube. The Salem-sump nasogastric tube is a two-lumen
piece of equipment; that is, it has two tubes. The Levin tube is usually made of plastic
with several drainage holes near the gastric end of the tube. There are graduated
markings on the lumen so that you can see how far you have inserted the tube into the
patient. This nasogastric tube is useful in instilling material into the stomach or
suctioning material out of the stomach.
b. The Salem-Sump Tube. This nasogastric tube is a two-lumen piece of
equipment. It has a drainage lumen and a smaller secondary tube that is open to the
atmosphere. The major advantage of this two-lumen tube is that it can be used for
continuous suction. The continuous airflow reduces the frequency of stomach contents
being drawn up into the whole of the lumen which is in the patient's stomach.
c. The Miller-Abbott Tube. This tube is also a two-lumen nasogastric tube.
There is a rubber balloon at the tip of one tube; the other tube has holes near its tip.
After one tube has passed through the pylorus (the opening between the stomach and
the duodenum), the balloon is inflated with air. The balloon is then moved along the
intestinal tract by peristalsis (movement by alternate contraction and relaxation, in the
case, of the intestinal walls. The rest of the tube is propelled along with the balloon.
The contents of the intestines are sucked back through the holes in the tube. The Miller-
Abbott nasogastric tube has two separate openings. The end of the tube which is
outside the patient's body has a metal adapter with two openings. One opening is for
suction and is marked "suction." The other opening is used by a doctor to inflate the
balloon. Be sure this last opening is marked so that no one becomes confused and
connects the opening to a suction device or instills irrigating solutions through that
d. The Cantor Tube. This nasogastric tube has one lumen and a bag on the
end. Mercury is inserted into the bag, and the mercury helps move the tube along the
intestinal tract. Before the tube is inserted into the patient, mercury is injected directly
into the bag with needle and syringe. The needle makes an opening large enough for
the mercury to go through but not large enough for the mercury to leak out. When the
tube is inserted into the patient, the bag holding the mercury becomes long. The Cantor
tube is very effective when used for intestinal decompression (relief of stretching of the
intestine through suctioning out intestinal contents).