JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW

Optimizing the benefits and minimizing the risks of enteral nutrition in the critically ill: role of small bowel feeding

Daren K Heyland, John W Drover, Rupinder Dhaliwal, Jan Greenwood
JPEN. Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition 2002, 26 (6 Suppl): S51-5; discussion S56-7
12405623

BACKGROUND: Strategies that maximize the delivery of enteral nutrition while minimizing the associated risks have the potential to improve the outcomes of critically ill patients. By delivering enteral feeds in the small bowel, beyond the pylorus, the frequency of regurgitation and the risk of aspiration is thought to be decreased while at the same time, nutrient delivery is maximized. The purpose of this paper is to systematically review those studies that compare gastric with small bowel feeding.

METHODS: We searched computerized bibliographic databases, personal files, and relevant reference lists to identify eligible studies. Only randomized, clinical trials of critically ill patients that compared small bowel and gastric feedings were included in this review. In an independent fashion, relevant data on the methodology and outcomes of primary studies were abstracted in duplicate.

RESULTS: There were 10 studies that met the inclusion criteria for this review. In 1 study, small bowel feeding was associated with a reduction in gastroesophageal regurgitation and a trend toward reduced pulmonary aspiration. Several studies document that small bowel feeding was associated with an increase in protein and calories delivered and a shorter time to target dose of nutrition. Compared with gastric feeding, when the results of 7 randomized trials were aggregated statistically, small bowel feeding was associated with a reduction in pneumonia (relative risk, 0.76; 95% confidence intervals, 0.59, 0.99). There was no difference in mortality rates between the 2 groups.

CONCLUSIONS: Small bowel feeding may be associated with a reduction in gastroesophageal regurgitation, an increase in nutrient delivery, a shorter time to achieve desired target nutrition, and a lower rate of ventilator-associated pneumonia.

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