A number of conditions compromise the passage of food along the digestive tract. Nasogastric tube (NGT) feeding is a classic, time-proven technique, although its prolonged use can lead to complications such as lesions to the nasal wing, chronic sinusitis, gastro-oesophageal reflux, and aspiration pneumonia. Another method of infusion, percutaneous endoscopy gastrostomy (PEG), is generally used when there is a need for enteral nutrition for a longer time period. There is a high demand for PEG in patients with swallowing disorders, although there is no consistent evidence about its effectiveness and safety as compared to NGT.
To evaluate the effectiveness and safety of PEG compared with NGT for adults with swallowing disturbances.
We searched The Cochrane Library, MEDLINE, EMBASE, and LILACS from inception to January 2014, and contacted the main authors in the subject area. There was no language restriction in the search.
We planned to include randomised controlled trials comparing PEG versus NGT for adults with swallowing disturbances or dysphagia and indications for nutritional support, with any underlying diseases. The primary outcome was intervention failure (e.g. feeding interruption, blocking or leakage of the tube, no adherence to treatment).
We used standard methodological procedures expected by The Cochrane Collaboration. For dichotomous and continuous variables, we used risk ratio (RR) and mean difference (MD), respectively with the random-effects statistical model and 95% confidence interval (CI). We assumed statistical heterogeneity when I² > 50%.
We included 11 randomised controlled studies with 735 participants which produced 16 meta-analyses of outcome data. Meta-analysis indicated that the primary outcome of intervention failure, occurred in lower proportion of participants with PEG compared to NGT (RR 0.18, 95% CI 0.05 to 0.59, eight studies, 408 participants, low quality evidence) and this difference was statistically significant. For this outcome, we also subgrouped the studies by endoscopic gastrostomy technique into pull, and push and not reported. We observed a significant difference favouring PEG in the pull subgroup (RR 0.07, 95% CI 0.01 to 0.35, three studies, 90 participants). Thepush subgroup contained only one clinical trial and the result favoured PEG (RR 0.05, 95% CI 0.00 to 0.74, one study, 33 participants) techniques. We found no statistically significant difference in cases where the technique was not reported (RR 0.43, 95% CI 0.13 to 1.44, four studies, 285 participants).There was no statistically significant difference between the groups for meta-analyses of the secondary outcomes of mortality (RR 0.86, 95% CI 0.58 to 1.28, 644 participants, nine studies, very low quality evidence), overall reports of any adverse event at any follow-up time point (ITT analysis, RR 0.83, 95% CI 0.51 to 1.34), 597 participants, 6 studies, moderate quality evidence), specific adverse events including pneumonia (aspiration) (RR 0.70, 95% CI 0.46 to 1.06, 645 participants, seven studies, low quality evidence), or for the meta- analyses of the secondary outcome of nutritional status including weight change from baseline, and mid-arm circumference at endpoint, although there was evidence in favour of PEG for meta-analyses of mid-arm circumference change from baseline (MD 1.16, 95% CI 1.01 to 1.31, 115 participants, two studies), and levels of serum albumin were higher in the PEG group (MD 6.03, 95% CI 2.31 to 9.74, 107 participants).For meta-analyses of the secondary outcomes of time on enteral nutrition, there was no statistically significant difference (MD 14.48, 95% CI -2.74 to 31.71; 119 participants, two studies). For meta-analyses of quality of life measures (EuroQol) outcomes in two studies with 133 participants, for inconvenience (RR 0.03, 95% CI 0.00 to 0.29), discomfort (RR 0.03, 95% CI 0.00 to 0.29), altered body image (RR 0.01, 95% CI 0.00 to 0.18; P = 0.001) and social activities (RR 0.01, 95% CI 0.00 to 0.18) the intervention favoured PEG, that is, fewer participants found the intervention of PEG to be inconvenient, uncomfortable or interfered with social activities. However, there were no significant differences between the groups for pain, ease of learning to use, or the secondary outcome of length of hospital stay (two studies, 381 participants).
PEG was associated with a lower probability of intervention failure, suggesting the endoscopic procedure may be more effective and safe compared with NGT. There is no significant difference in mortality rates between comparison groups, or in adverse events, including pneumonia related to aspiration. Future studies should include details of participant demographics including underlying disease, age and gender, and the gastrostomy technique.