Feeding by the stomach tube is employed in mental cases where food is refused, for sufferers from muscular paralysis, when swallowing becomes impossible, and in certain affections of the tongue, of the pharynx, and of the oesophagus which render deglutition painful or impossible.
By means of the tube food is poured directly into the stomach two or three times in twenty-four hours. Eggs, milk, soup, beef juice, and solutions of peptone are suitable foods. The stomach can easily take a quart of such liquid nourishment, but it is most desirable that the food should be introduced slowly.
Gavage is a term first used to signify the introduction of food into the stomach by means of a tube in cases of severe vomiting. Food thus introduced is often retained when food taken in the ordinary way is immediately returned. A good mixture to employ in forced feeding of this description is 1 1/2 pints of milk, two eggs, four ounces of milk sugar, and a little common salt. The caloric value of such a mixture may be reinforced by a protein preparation such as sanatogen, plasmon, etc. Such a mixture administered twice or thrice daily should be ample to maintain nutrition in a patient at rest in bed.