Surgical Endoscopy

, Volume 33, Issue 12, pp 4089–4097 | Cite as

Physician opinions on decision making for percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) feeding tube placement

  • Theresa A. FesslerEmail author
  • Timothy B. Short
  • Kate F. Willcutts
  • Robert G. Sawyer



Percutaneous endoscopically placed gastrostomy (PEG) tubes are useful for long-term enteral nutrition; however, they are associated with lack of benefit for patients with advanced dementia, at end of life, and for some stroke patients with early regain of swallowing function. We surveyed physician opinions on decision making with the aim to identify factors that can lead to inappropriate PEG placement, as a first step of a quality improvement initiative to prevent inappropriate PEG placements at our facility.


A survey was distributed to 231 physicians, with questions about discussion topics, contraindications, responsibilities, and practices in decision making for PEG placement. Five-point Likert scales were used for most responses.


Of 62 respondents, the majority were general surgeons (51.6%) and neurologists (30.6%). Levels of agreement were very low that PEG placement is contraindicated in advanced dementia (> 56% disagreed) and at end of life (55% disagreed) with scores of 2.4 and 2.5 (out of 5), respectively. Agreement level was low (score of 2.85) for delaying PEG for stroke patients by at least 2 weeks. Agreement was high for the discussion topics, for allowing 1–7 days for processing information, and for consulting the nutrition service. Over 98% of respondents chose primary team and 58% chose both primary and endoscopy teams as being responsible for discussions with patients and care partners in the decision-making process.


Greater awareness is needed of the lack of benefit of PEG feeding in advanced dementia, at end of life, and for some stroke patients with early regain of swallow function. Disagreement exists as to whether the primary team and endoscopist share in the responsibility for discussions in decision making for PEG placement.


Percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) Enteral nutrition Decision making Stroke Advanced dementia End of life 



Nancy Kechner, PhD, Liaison for Biology and Biomedical Engineering at University of Virginia, provided statistical analysis of data.

Compliance with ethical standards


Theresa Fessler and Drs Timothy Short, Kate Willcutts, and Robert Sawyer have no conflicts of interest or financial ties to disclose.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 15 KB)
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Supplementary material 3 (DOCX 14 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Nutrition ServicesUniversity of Virginia Health SystemCharlottesvilleUSA
  2. 2.Morrison HealthcareUniversity of Virginia Health SystemCharlottesvilleUSA
  3. 3.Department of Palliative CareUniversity of Virginia Heath SystemCharlottesvilleUSA
  4. 4.Department of SurgeryWestern Michigan UniversityKalamazooUSA

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