Chest x-ray: NG tube position (summary)

Dr Jeremy Jones et al.

Chest x-ray NG tube (nasogastric tube) position should be assessed following initial placement and on subsequent radiographs.

Reference article

This is a summary article; we do not have a more in-depth reference article.


  • confirming position
    • x-rays are only performed when position is uncertain
    • most tube position is checked by assessing pH of tube aspirate
  • normal
    • tube descends the thorax in the midline
    • tube bisects the carina
    • tube crosses the diaphragm in the midline
    • the tip sits below the diaphragm
  • viewing the tube
    • you need to be confident that you can see the tip
    • most tubes are visible on a CXR without a guidewire
    • changing the windowing of the radiograph is helpful
    • if you are not sure, discuss with a senior
  • malposition
    • NG tubes may end up in the airways
    • feeding through a malpositioned tube can be disasterous

Medical student radiology curriculum
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Article Information

rID: 31405
Section: Approach
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:

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Cases and Figures

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    Correct placement of nasogastric tube
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    Annotated image of correct placement
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    NG tube looped around carina
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    Correct placement
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