When a person has weakness in the muscles involved in chewing and swallowing, they may eat and drink less than they usually would, cough during mealtimes, take a long time to eat, or be worried and anxious about eating and drinking. This can result in weight loss, malnutrition, dehydration, and a loss of enjoyment of life.
The best evidence to date suggests that people with motor neurone disease who have a gastrostomy may live longer and have an improved sense of wellbeing.
Gastrostomy is a medical procedure during which a short, permanent tube is placed into the stomach through the abdominal wall. You can have liquid feeds and fluids through the tube, directly into your stomach, bypassing your mouth and throat.
This may increase or maintain your weight, improve hydration, and help to reduce tiredness and hunger. Some people with MND can continue to take some foods and fluids by mouth after a gastrostomy.
People sometimes delay making the decision to have a gastrostomy. However, it is important to know that other symptoms of MND, such as respiratory muscle weaknesses and malnutrition, can affect your recovery from the procedure or prevent you from having a gastrostomy.
If you think you might consider a gastrostomy as an option in the future, you may need to have the gastrostomy before you really need one, while your respiratory function is above a certain level.
The above information comes from MND Australia's evidence-based fact sheets. See the relevant fact sheet below:
The MyTube website has informative short videos about feeding tubes for people with MND: View MyTube website.