Making the Switch

by ALSN Staff on Fri, 2006-09-01 10:46
Wayne Phillips
MIC-KEY button
Wayne Phillips uses a MIC-KEY button.

Wayne Phillips of Santa Barbara, Calif., received a diagnosis of ALS in August 1989. After six years, Phillips decided it was time for a feeding tube. He used a traditional PEG tube for a year but switched to a MIC-KEY button in 1996.

“There are many benefits [to using a button],” Phillips, 47, said. “The MIC-KEY is easy to change, the changes are essentially painless, and changes can be done at home by anyone. If the tube gets pulled out by accident, it can be reinserted or replaced without an emergency trip to a physician or an ER.”

Prior to the button, Phillips was using an 18 French PEG tube but was struggling to get medications through the tube. When he switched to the button, Phillips’ doctor expanded his stoma to accommodate a 24 French G-tube.

Also, Phillips uses a feeding pump because it’s the easiest way to handle large volumes of food, while his medications are pushed with a syringe because it’s faster.

Phillips explained that button users can attach extensions with different diameters to the button depending upon delivery method. For instance, a large-diameter extension could be used for medications and bolus feedings, while a small-diameter extension can be used for continuous feedings. The extensions also can be replaced independently from the tube.

“When the tube isn’t being used, the extension can be removed and a small plug is placed in the hold so there isn’t a long tube hanging out where it can be in the way or could get pulled,” Phillips added.

He noted that the main drawback to using a button is that the balloon inside the stomach can burst, forcing the button to fall out. Phillips, however, hasn’t had this happen, and recommends it “to all people with ALS.”

ALSN Staff
No votes yet
MDA cannot respond to questions asked in the comments field. For help with questions, contact your local MDA office or clinic or email See comment policy