CLINICAL DO'S & DON'TS: Measuring gastric residual volume

April 2004 
Volume 34  Number 4
Pages 18 - 18
  PDF Version Available!


  • DO

  • DON'T



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    TO PREVENT ASPIRATION in a patient who receives tube feedings, measure gastric residual volume to assess the rate of gastric emptying.


    * Explain the procedure to the patient and provide privacy. Wash your hands and put on clean gloves.

    Figure. No caption available. Make sure that tube placement was confirmed on X-ray. Measure the exposed portion of the tube and compare the length with previous measurements.

    * Assess the patient for abdominal distension, nausea, and vomiting, which can signal inadequate gastric emptying.

    * Attach a 30- to 60-ml syringe to the tube and aspirate about 20 ml of gastric secretions. Check the color, consistency, and pH to help confirm tube placement. A pH of 1 to 5 generally indicates gastric contents; ...

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