Pharyngostomy Tube Placement in Ferrets (Disease Investigation & Management - Treatment and Care)

Summary Information

Type of technique Health & Management / Disease Investigation & Management / Techniques:
Synonyms and Keywords  
  • Anaesthetise the ferret. (B631.23.w23, J29.6.w3)
  • Use a 8 to 10 Fr capped end clear paediatric feeding tube. (J29.6.w3)
  • Measure the tube from the pharynx to the stomach (to the 9th-11th intercostal space). (B631.23.w23)
  • Insert curved forceps into the mouth and through to the proximal oesophagus. (B631.23.w23)
  • Palpate the end of the forceps through the skin. (B631.23.w23)
  • Incise the skin, subcutaneous tissues and the wall of the oesophagus. (B631.23.w23)
  • Push the tip of the forceps through the incision. (B631.23.w23)
  • Grasp the tip of the feeding tube with the forceps. (B631.23.w23)
  • Pull the tube into the oesophagus and up into the mouth. (B631.23.w23)
  • Redirect the tip of the tube caudally and down through the oesophagus. (B631.23.w23)
  • Apply a butterfly tape to the tube. (J29.6.w3)
  • Suture the tube into place on the skin. (B631.23.w23)
  • Reflect the end of the tube causally over the neck. (B631.23.w23)
  • Lightly wrap around the neck with elastic bandaging material to secure the tube in place. (B631.23.w23, J29.6.w3)
Appropriate Use (?)
  • For ferrets in which pain or damage to the mouth or throat prevent swallowing, make eating and syringe feeding inappropriate. (J29.6.w3)
  • For ferrets which will not tolerate syringe feeding. (P120.2006.w6)
  • The ferret's neck is long, making access for this procedure quite easy. (J29.6.w3)
  • Ferret's tolerate a pharyngostomy tube quite well. (J29.6.w3)
  • It is not usually necessary to place an Elizabethan collar on the ferret. (B631.23.w23)
    • Avoid using an Elizabethan collar; this is usually not well tolerated. (J29.6.w3)
  • It is possible to leave the tube in place for up to six weeks. (B631.23.w23, J29.6.w3)
Complications/ Limitations / Risk
  • There is a risk of local infection developing at the site where the tube enters through the skin. (B631.23.w23)
Equipment / Chemicals required and Suppliers
  • A 8 to 10 Fr capped end clear paediatric feeding tube. (J29.6.w3)

  • Tape. (J29.6.w3)

  • Surgical kit, including sutures. (J29.6.w3)

  • Elastic bandage. (J29.6.w3)

Expertise level / Ease of Use
  • This procedure should only be carried out by an individual with appropriate clinical training and practical experience; this would normally be someone with a veterinary degree. 
Cost/ Availability
  • Costs are those associated with anaesthetic, personnel time and consumables.
Legal and Ethical Considerations In some countries there may be legislation restricting the use of this type of technique to licensed veterinarians. For example in the UK: "The Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966 (Section 19) provides, subject to a number of exceptions, that only registered members of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons may practice veterinary surgery." (See: LCofC1 - RCVS Guide to Professional Conduct 2000 - Treatment of Animals by Non-Veterinary Surgeons).
Author Dr Debra Bourne MA VetMB PhD MRCVS (V.w5)
References B631.23.w23, J29.6.w3, P120.2006.w6

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