Part 1-Using a Pump for Blenderized Tube Feeding: Comparing Pumps

Blenderized tube feeding can be administered by syringe, gravity infusion or pump infusion. For this post, I’ll be focusing on feeding blended meals by pump infusion.


The Kangaroo Joey pump at work.

Administering Blenderized Tube Feeding


It's important to discuss all feeding administration options with your healthcare team to determine what’s best for your individual situation. There are countless reasons why a pump might be a good choice. Often a pump is necessary for J-tube feeding or for anyone who needs a slow continuous infusion of food. Many people with G-tubes will opt for syringe feeding because they can usually handle taking in a lot of blended food in a short period. Syringe feeding is great, but one of the advantages of a feeding pump is that you can simply add your blended food to the feeding bag, set up the pump, prime the tubing and get the meal started. After that, the pump does the work.


I’ve worked with tube fed adults who are able to have meals by syringe in a short time frame, but, they need to take in such a large amount of food to meet their nutrition needs that using a pump makes the process a lot easier. Think about it, if you need 2500 calories a day and are using blends that provide about 1 calorie per mL, it would take over 40 single administrations using a 60 mL syringe. A pump can be very helpful in situations like that, or if you simply feel tired of using a syringe. Another advantage of using a pump is that you’ll know how fast the meal is infusing. For people who have difficulty tolerating larger volumes of food, a slow, controlled infusion by pump may be essential.


Which Tube Feeding Pump is Best for Blended Diets?


There are three pumps which I am very familiar with- the Kangaroo ePump (used in the hospital where I work), the Kangaroo Joey and the Enteralite Infinity. The Joey and the Infinity are excellent options for home use. They are small, portable and have a long battery life that allows them to be used on the go. They don’t require use of an IV pole and are able to function effectively in any position- even when upside down in a backpack.


Comparing the Joey and the Infinity:

Joey

Weight 770 g

Size 10 x 13 x 9 cm

Max rate 400 mL/h

Water flush yes

Battery life 18 h

IV pole needed no

Water resistant yes

Easy to reuse bags no


Infinity

Weight 408 g

Size 10 x 14 x 5 cm

Max rate 600 mL/h

Water flush no

Battery life 24 h

IV pole needed no

Water resistant yes

Easy to reuse bags yes


Picking the Best Pump for You


When if comes to blenderized tube feeding, each pump is capable of administering blended food. In my experience, the Joey has difficulty with thick blends and has a tendency to alarm, but with thin blends there's no problem. The Infinity seems to have an easier time in general with blended food and can handle blends that are a little thicker. There's a trick to help run blended food more smoothly through the Infinity. I'll be explaining that, plus lots more, in my next post on this topic- Part 2: Tips and Tricks. I'll also be going into detail about washing and reusing the pump feeding sets. It's an easy task with the Infinity....but not so easy with the Joey. Before you choose your feeding pump, make sure you have all the info. Check out Part 2 for details.