The introducer technique is the optimal method for placing percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy tubes in head and neck cancer patients

Jason M. Foster, Peter Filocamo, Hector Nava, Michael Schiff, Wesley Hicks, Nestor Rigual, Judy Smith, Thom Loree, John F. Gibbs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

28 Scopus citations


Background: Percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) tubes are often placed in head and neck cancer patients to provide nutritional support, but studies have found the complication rates to be higher than other subsets of patients who undergo PEG placement. Complication rates as high as 50% have been reported, with the bulk of these complications being PEG site issues (i.e., cellulitis, abscess, fascitis, and tumor implantation). Because the pull technique has been the primary technique used, the theory is that the transoral tube passage is the source of the complications in these patients. Alternatively, the introducer technique uses a transabdominal approach to place the device, avoiding any tube contamination by upper aerodigestive organisms or tumor cells. At our institution, this technique has been used exclusively for head and neck cancer patients and this article reports our experience. Methods: One hundred forty-nine head and neck cancer patients who had a prophylactic PEG tube placed were reviewed from January 1, 1999 to December 31, 2003. The rates of placement success, morbidity, and complications were determined. Results: Successful placement was achieved in 148 (99%) patients without any PEG-related deaths. Overall, 17 complications (11%) occurred, with only one major complication (0.7%) identified. PEG site infections were uncommon with only five cases (3.4%) and all were mild cellulitis. Conclusions: The introducer technique is the safest method for PEG tube placement in head and neck cancer patients. The overall rate of complications is low and PEG site infectious complications are rare. The introducer technique should be the method of choice for PEG tubes in head and neck cancer patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)897-901
Number of pages5
JournalSurgical Endoscopy and Other Interventional Techniques
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2007



  • Complications
  • Head and neck cancer
  • Percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery

Cite this