The nasogastric tube syndrome: Two case reports and review ,of the literature

Melissa Bogle, Patrick Kelly, Jay M. Shenaq, Jeffrey D. Friedman, Gregory R.D. Evans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Background. The nasogastric tube syndrome is a potentially life-threatening complication of an indwelling nasogastric (NG) tube. The syndrome is thought to result from ulceration and infection of the posterior cricoid region with subsequent dysfunction of vocal cord abduction. This dysfunction may present as complete Joss of vocal cord abduction manifested as serious airway compromise. Reports of this syndrome are infrequent, with only 29 cases published to date. Methods. Two additional cases of nasogastric tube syndrome diagnosed at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics over a 2-year period are presented. A search of MEDLINE (1966 through February 1999), including review of those articles' references identified seven previous publications, including 29 case reports. These 29 cases are reviewed and the findings summarized. Results. Twenty-nine cases of NG tube syndrome are identified, with 16 of these occurring in the preantibiotic period. Including the two cases presented here, 15 contemporary patients are examined. Among these 15 cases, 10 required tracheostomy, on average 8.5 days after NG tube placement. Conclusion. Although the fully manifested syndrome presents quite dramatically, we suspect that a clinical spectrum of severity exists with less severe cases going unrecognized. Consistent with previous reports, we found that direct visualization of the postcricoid region is required to rule out the diagnosis and recommend such action be taken whenever the diagnosis is suspected. Treatment should include establishment of a safe airway, removal of the tube whenever possible, antibiotic therapy, and antirefiux therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)59-63
Number of pages5
JournalHead and Neck
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2001


  • Larynx
  • Nasogastric tube
  • Posterior cricoarytenoid muscle
  • Trauma
  • Vocal cord paralysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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