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Efficacy of permissive underfeeding for critically ill patients: an updated systematic review and trial sequential meta-analysis.

BACKGROUND: Our previous study in 2011 concluded that permissive underfeeding may improve outcomes in patients receiving parenteral nutrition therapy. This conclusion was tentative, given the small sample size. We conducted the present systematic review and trial sequential meta-analysis to update the status of permissive underfeeding in patients who were admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU).

METHODS: Seven databases were searched: PubMed, Embase, Web of Science, China National Knowledge Infrastructure, Wanfang, Chinese Biomedical Literature Database, and Cochrane Library. Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) were included. The Revised Cochrane risk-of-bias tool (ROB 2) was used to assess the risk of bias in the enrolled trials. RevMan software was used for data synthesis. Trial sequential analyses (TSA) of overall and ICU mortalities were performed.

RESULTS: Twenty-three RCTs involving 11,444 critically ill patients were included. There were no significant differences in overall mortality, hospital mortality, length of hospital stays, and incidence of overall infection. Compared with the control group, permissive underfeeding significantly reduced ICU mortality (risk ratio [RR] = 0.90; 95% confidence interval [CI], [0.81, 0.99]; P = 0.02; I2  = 0%), and the incidence of gastrointestinal adverse events decreased (RR = 0.79; 95% CI, [0.69, 0.90]; P = 0.0003; I2  = 56%). Furthermore, mechanical ventilation duration was reduced (mean difference (MD) = - 1.85 days; 95% CI, [- 3.44, - 0.27]; P = 0.02; I2  = 0%).

CONCLUSIONS: Permissive underfeeding may reduce ICU mortality in critically ill patients and help to shorten mechanical ventilation duration, but the overall mortality is not improved. Owing to the sample size and patient heterogeneity, the conclusions still need to be verified by well-designed, large-scale RCTs. Trial Registration The protocol for our meta-analysis and systematic review was registered and recorded in PROSPERO (registration no. CRD42023451308). Registered 14 August 2023.

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