A Review of the bFed System

I’m excited to post about these new products on the market for those who are tube fed using the bolus method!

Full disclosure right up front:  The president and co-founder of bFed contacted me, and asked if I could supply feedback on their products if they sent me a sample out to try.  If you are a regular reader of Tube Chic, you know that I have not written reviews in exchange for free or reduced cost products.  But, this has been a self imposed standard (it is my website, after all) and, as I would not have known about the bFed system if he’d not gotten in touch, I felt it worthwhile to accept the samples, with the caveat that I would state I was given samples, and that it would be an honest review, not necessarily a positive review.  

Happily, for everyone concerned, especially you, my readers, this is a favorable review.  The samples were delivered a couple of weeks ago, but this is the first chance I’ve had to give this review the time and attention it deserves. 

What bFed offers is a feeding system.  There is a bag component, which is washable and reusable.  The tubing  comes with an ENFit connector, as well as the christmas tree adapter to use with legacy type feeding tube connections.   I use the legacy connectors, and the adapter worked fine, no problems with leakage or it coming loose.

Unlike gravity feed bags offered by  the major manufacturers, the Bolee Bag has a screw top storage/travel cap, along with the screw on cap which is part of the gravity feeding set.

This  ‘Large Cap’  gravity feeding set, attaches to the bag for mealtime.

There is also  ‘Small Cap’ gravity feeding set, and it is used to connect to squeeze pouches.   I will talk more about it later,

I have almost no experience using the gravity feed bags that are available from the durable medical equipment providers.  But, when I knew I was going to be reviewing the bFed products,I ordered an enteral gravity feed bag manufactured by Amsino from Amazon, just so I’d have something for comparison to the Bolee Bag.  It looks like to me that Amsino brand is the same as bags manufactured by Kangaroo et al, but I don’t know if there are subtle differences.

Here is what the folks at bFed sent me:

(from left: The Bolee Bag. the Large Cap Gravity Feeding Set, the Small Cap Gravity Feeding Set

From left: Bolee Bag with storage/travel cap screwed on, Large Cap Gravity Feeding Set, christmas tree adapter for those who use legacy connections and a dust cover for the connector end.

Comparing the Bolee Bag to a medical supplies type enteral delivery gravity feed bag, what I liked right off the bat about the bolink large cap gravity feed tubing,  is that the tubing is not super long.  I actually grabbed a tape measure  to see how long the tubing is on the Amsino enteral gravity feed bag, and it’s 67″/170 cm long.  That’s a lot of tubing!—which would be useful if hung high on an i.v. pole, but not so much for me in my home setting, and especially not when out in public trying to have an inconspicuous meal!

The tubing is longer than I am tall!

Here are the two bags side by side:

There are distinct differences in the caps, and from which end of the bags open.

  • The Bolee bag opens from the same end as the tubing attaches to for feeding.
  • The Bolee bag has  a threaded cap with inner silicone gasket, so no risk of leaks and spills.

  • The Bolee Bag comes with a screw on travel/storage cap.
  • The other ‘standard’ type enteral gravity feed bag has a pressure fit cap, rather than screw on  This is significant if a person would choose to use pretty thick blends, and squeeze the bag to help with flow.  Enough pressure squeezing, and that cap is going to pop open.

  • This has a hanging loop, so if you wanted to hang the bag, this would be a handy feature that the Bolee Bag does not offer.

  • It also has the roller type clamp on the tubing, so that the flow rate can be adjusted.  It is a nice touch, but not something that is particularly important to me…

  • In order to flush with water after a meal, the Bolee bag will have to be disconnected from feed set, as the tubing attaches to the cap.  The other bag I’ve been using as a comparison model, can be opened without disconnecting, as the tubing exits the bottom of the bag, rather than the cap.

Okay, now this next statement may be just ‘me’.  It’s something I’ve grown to be hyper aware of.  I like that the Bolee Bag looks like a food container.  Those colorful fruits and veggies say FOOD!  The other bag (and any bag, regardless of the brand you buy) that is an enteral  delivery gravity feed bag, just screams !!medical!! It does not convey any sense of normalcy.  By just looking at it,  a person knows this is serious business!  But hey, would the baby food manufacturers design their food pouches to look like this?  No!  Absolutely not.  Those pouches look like they contain delicious, appetizing food—and so should our containers that we use to serve our meals from!   Would you set your table with beakers and lab equipment for a nice homey meal?  No, you would not.  (I hope!)  Really, think about it.  A tube fed person is having a meal, just like a person who is eating orally.  This is not a medical drama when it’s time to eat—it’s mealtime.  If you want serious drama, focus on something else, sometime else.  Meal time should be easy happy time, not a cold and sterile looking event.  Lighten up, your tube is your friend.

…moving on…

Pouring thicker blends into the mouth of the bottle was a bit messy.  I found it easier to use a funnel.  The one I have is by FIFO.  It fits into the neck perfectly.  Obviously there are other funnels out there that would work for this purpose, this just happens to be the one I have, and I know the openings are compatible with  each other.

I purchased this funnel a few months back via Amazon.  Here is the shopping link:

https://www.amazon.com/FIFO-7210-480-Silicone-Squeeze-Bottles/dp/B0094KKHVO/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?ie=UTF8&qid=1520628653&sr=8-1-spons&keywords=fifo+funnel&psc=1

This next photo shows the Bolee bag with a blenderized meal.

Bolee bag with storage/travel cap.

All of the feeding extension sets I own are the 24″ variety.  With the added length of the bolink gravity feeding set, I could easily use the 12″ extension sets.

Keep in mind...  If you are using blended food instead of a thinner liquid such as a replacement meal/shake (Enū, Orgain, Kate Farms) or, formula,  the thicker the blend is, the more squeezing pressure it will require to have the contents come out.  This  is true not just for this bag, but, any other system that does not have a way for air to displace the liquid.  This is just a fact of physics, and is why I like using the FIFO bottles so much.  The air naturally takes the place of liquid, and keeps things moving along.

When I put plain water, or a nutrition shake in the bolee bag, the contents flow and the bag collapses all on its own accord.  Once I move into the thick blend territory, it takes squeezing the bag.

If you take time to experiment, you may be surprised at how little you have to thin something  that is being problematic in order to get it to flow.  If, for example, you have an 8 ounce thick blend, that is slightly less thick than a purée,  try  adding two  more ounces of a thin liquid such as broth, juice, milk or water.  This could be enough to where no squeezing, or minimal squeezing of the bolee bag is needed for the meal to flow well.  Just like many things in life,  sometimes a bit of experimenting is needed in order to find what works.

 

Washing the bag after my meal was finished was easy .  I just used a regular bottle brush:

But, I noticed some food staining around the edges at shoulders part of the bag, and the bottle brush I have could not reach it.

My finger and soapy water took care of that.

Washing the feeding sets was accomplished with no difficulty, using my tube cleaning brush.  (The exact one I have, with purchasing information, can be found in the drop down menu at the top of every page.  Go to: Equipment↓Washing Up.)

The brush head is inside the feeding set. The wire that the black pointy hand is aimed at is the handle to the brush.

I recently came across another brush specifically designed to clean extension sets.  I have not purchased it yet, but it gets good reviews.  The link to it is here:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0761KSV75/ref=ox_sc_sfl_title_3?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=A33PVX9VLGGHKB 

I plan to buy it, but have not done so yet…

The bolink Small Cap Gravity Feeding set is intended to connect to compatible  commercially available collapsible food containers with 8 mm diameter connectors such the baby food pouches.  (You can also purchase reusable pouches from vendors such as Amazon for using your own homemade purées  and blends.)  The Small Cap gravity feeding set will work with all of these type pouches.  I really like this!  It is such a clever idea.

bolink Small Cap Gravity Feeding Set

This end screws onto the commercial food pouch

There you go!  It is a truly nifty invention.  These small cap feed sets are so portable.  This is something easy to take along with you when out and about.  That way. even if you don’t have your own food handy, you still have options  Baby food pouches are available at all grocery stores, and some meal entrée types have over 100 kcals.  Grab a few of those if you get hungry or stranded, and you won’t have to wait until you get home to eat.

If you live in  the United States, there is a billing code to use for insurance coverage.  It is B4036 – Enteral Feeding Kit – Gravity.

Here is the link to the bFed System website:

https://www.udelivermedical.com/shop/

I am happy that Bryan took the time to contact me, and that he sent out a couple of samples to evaluate.  I’ve nothing but positive things to say about the bFed System products after using them.

[Edited to add]

For clarification purposes, the bolee bags are reusable for an indefinite period of time.  Think of them as tupperware, you can use them as long as you’re comfortable doing so.  You know how it is with those tupperware containers, they last and last, until one day…. you look at the semi-petrified , mold covered contents stuck in one that had resided at the back of your refrigerator, for weeks/months… and you shrug and say oh well, and toss the whole thing in the garbage?  The bags are the same category of item.  Reusable until the effort just isn’t worth it .

The bolink tubing is a medically regulated device, and hence is required to have the same labeling that medical syringes come with as far as single use.  Use your discretion.

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