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University of Virginia Nutrition Support
E-Journal Club
November 2005


We had a wonderful time during our November traineeship, and hosted 4 trainees from New Haven , CT ; Henderson , Kentucky and Dhahran , Saudi Arabia .  The weather turned cold (for Virginia ) by week’s end, and the last of our beautiful fall foliage is near spent.


November Citation:  

  • Petros S, E Lothar . Enteral nutrition delivery and energy expenditure in medical intensive care patients.  Clin Nutr (In Press);2005.


This is a prospective, but observational study of 231 medical ICU patients that investigated energy expenditure and actual delivery of tube feedings.  The goal was to follow patients who received enteral nutrition (EN) for at least 7 days.  The authors also commented on mortality, in relation to the amount of nutrition that was provided. 

EN was administered as a bolus every 2 hours over a 14-hour period from 08:00 to 22:00 hrs.  The goal was to administer at least 25 kcals/kg, or a maximum of 2000 mL formula/day, of a 1 calorie/mL feeding by day 4 of the study.



Ultimately only 61 patients received EN for at least 7 days, and patients were followed for a mean of 12.5 +/- 2.5 days. Twenty-two patients were converted to nasojejunal tube feeds after residuals exceeded 300mL, and supplemental parenteral nutrition was provided on 18.7% of feeding days. 

Patients received an average of 86.2% (+/- 30.4%) of ordered volume; full volume of feeding was delivered on 78.9% of patient days.  Enteral feedings were interrupted on 241 feeding days, but due to the 14-hr feeding cycle the interruption was compensated 31% of the time by extending the feeding period into the night.  The goal of meeting target tube feedings by day 4 was achieved in 46 patients (75%).  The remaining 15 patients met target volume after 10.4 +/- 5.7 days.  The 15 patients who did not meet feeding targets by day 4 had a higher APACHE-II score, increased need for mechanical ventilation, and significantly increased mortality (p= < 0.002).


Authors Conclusions:

The conclusions were that a high delivery-to-prescription rate could be achieved with a standardized protocol in critically ill medical patients, and that enteral feeding intolerance is associated with a high mortality rate.



The major point made by the group was that since this was an observational study that it is important to realize that no cause-and-effect conclusions can be made about the feeding intolerance and patient mortality.  There would be a clear selection bias, with more critically ill patients experiencing a higher mortality and greater (real and perceived) feeding intolerance.  The target feeding goals were modest, and the feeding protocol may not translate well to facilities with a protocol for continuous feeding.  The use of a 14-hr feeding cycle did appear to have the advantage of allowing time to compensate for missed feeding.  Of note, is that 36% of the patients were converted to small bowel feedings, and since the methods-section describes only bolus feedings, it appears that those patients who were converted to small bowel tubes may have tolerated bolus feedings.


Take home message:  

This study is consistent with several others- patients do not receive full feeds in the ICU.  There was no comparison made to another protocol – this is an observational study, so there is no support for the use of this protocol over any other.  No cause-and-effect statements can be made about feeding intolerance and outcome based on an observational study.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------"A habit of basing convictions upon evidence, and of giving to them only that degree or certainty which the evidence warrants, would, if it became general, cure most of the ills from which the world suffers."

- Bertrand Russell


Other News:

Check out the latest Practical Gastroenterology article at:www.uvadigestivehealth.org 
Scroll down to GI Nutrition on the far left column and click on link
Then scroll down to box with links within the nutrition site
Nutrition Articles in Practical Gastroenterology is in the left column.

Willcutts K, Scarano K, Eddins CW. Ostomies & Fistulas: A Collaborative Approach.  Practical Gastroenterology 2005;XXIX(11):63 .


Joe Krenitsky MS, RD
Carol Parrish RD, MS

Happy Holidays To All!! 

Holiday image

PS – Please feel free to forward this on to friends and colleagues.