Medical, surgical, and health outcomes of gastrostomy feeding.

A prospective controlled study with repeated measures before and after surgery examined the medical, surgical, and health outcomes of gastrostomy for children with disabilities at a tertiary paediatric referral centre in the North Thames area, UK. Anthropometric measures included weight, mid-upper-arm and head circumference. Five-day prospective food diaries were completed and data on physical health and surgical outcomes recorded. Seventy-six children participated and underwent gastrostomy (44 males, 32 females; median age 3 y 4 mo, range 4 mo-17 y 5 mo), and 35/76 required an anti-reflux procedure. Categories of disability were: cerebral palsy (32/76), syndrome of chromosomal or other genetic origin (25/76), slowly progressive degenerative disease (11/76), and unconfirmed diagnosis (8/76). Most children had gross motor difficulties (99%) and were non-ambulant (83%). Oromotor problems were identified in 78% of children, 69% aspirated, and 65% were fed nasogastrically before surgery. The mean weight before surgery was -2.84 standard deviation score (SDS; SD 2.21, range -9.8 to 3.4). Two-thirds of children achieved catch-up growth postoperatively: weight-for-age (mean difference 0.51 SDS, 95% CI 0.23-0.79, p=0.001) and mid-upper arm circumference (mean difference 1.12 cm, 95% confidence interval 0.50-1.75, p=0.001). Health gains included a reduction in drooling, secretions, vomiting, and constipation. Major surgical complications were found in 13/74 children. The study provides evidence that catch-up growth and health gains are possible following gastrostomy.