G-Button change and care

While I still had a g-button, I did all my own button changes. Being able to change your g-tube button yourself enhances your independence and lets you take charge of your button care. And a Murphy's law for balloon buttons definitely is that they never break when your doc has office hours, but always at night or on the weekends :-)!

Here is a foto story on how to change your button yourself:

This is the AMT Mini ONE Balloon Button kit. When it comes to changing your button the AMT Mini ONE balloon button is comparable to the Mic-key button. The only difference is that the AMT button has a higher recommended fill volume (for the 18 FR 8ml - compared to the same-size Mic-key with 5 ml). 

First I draw up the prescribed amount of distilled water in the provided 10 ml syringe.

I then slowly inject the new button with it. This is to make sure that the balloon works and fills up evenly. (Although I have found that they all look a bit lopsided to me.)

I then take out all the water again and put some lubricating jelly on the shaft of the new button. The AMT kit now provides a small pack of surgical lubricating jelly, no idea if the Mic-key kit does. But, in my experience any lubricating jelly (like KY jelly) can be used.

I also put some lubricating jelly around my old button and stoma site.

I then take out the water from the old balloon.

Never forget to put a piece of gauze underneath the button, stomach contents might leak out during the change. Also, it is wise to wait a few hours after tube feeding or eating before changing a button.

Out comes the old button. You will feel some resistance in the beginning - the balloon part of the shaft is slightly larger in circumference than the rest of the shaft and it will cause some resistance when you start pulling on the button.

Make sure you have your new button ready for insertion.

Fill the balloon with the prescribed amount of distilled water.

Button care:
  • Check the fill amount of your balloon weekly or at least every fortnight and re-fill with the prescribed amount. Due to osmosis balloons will lose water over time. Less water means a less perfect fit, more leakage, and possibly more granulation tissue.
  • NEVER use saline solution in the balloon. Saline solution will crystallize over time and possibly damage the balloon valve. I have tried both tap water and distilled water and found that the use of distilled water increase the balloon durability. In fact, I have only ever had one balloon rupture on me and that was the balloon that was filled with tap water. 
  • Clean the feeding port regularly. I use wet and dry Q-tips. (No forcing the Q-tip into the valve though!)
  • Always remember to clean your button - especially the bottom side of the external bolster - whenever you clean your stoma.
  • Rotate your button daily (only g-buttons!).

When to change your button:
  • in case of balloon rupture
  • if you notice that your balloon is not holding onto the water for a very long time
  • the reflux valve is becoming increasingly leaky (and is therefore driving you crazy.... that's what always happens to me)