BACKGROUND - An electromagnetic tube placement device (ETPD) monitors tip position of feeding tubes (FT) during placement in the digestive tract. It helps to avoid airway misplacement and permits positioning into the small bowel (SB). This study compares the overall agreement between FT tip location as determined by an ETPD vs an abdominal radiograph of the kidneys, ureter, and bladder (KUB).
METHODS - Using an ETPD, A nurse placed postpyloric FTs in ICU patients. We included all patients in whom the ETPD was used for FT placement. Data were prospectively recorded for 255 days on the rate of successful postpyloric placement, ETPD estimated tip location, and KUB location.
RESULTS - 860 tubes were placed in 616 patients, 719 (83.6%) of which recorded for ETPD and KUB. According to the KUB, 81% of tubes were in the SB; however, ETPD suggested 89% were beyond the pylorus. There was moderate agreement beyond what could be attributed to chance between KUB and ETPD tip locations (475 [66.1%], κ score 0.62 [95% confidence interval 0.58-0.67]). More tubes by KUB were distal (134[18.6%]) vs proximal (110[15.3%]) to the suspected location by ETPD (P < .0001. Tubes in or distal to the second half of the duodenum, according to ETPD were rarely in the stomach (<1%). No tubes were proximal to the stomach or placed into the airway.
CONCLUSIONS - The strong agreement between KUB and ETPD, when tubes were believed to be in the second part of the duodenum or beyond, suggests that KUB is necessary only when the FT tip is suspected to be in the proximal duodenum.