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Feeding Tube Clinic Effect on Nutrition.

BACKGROUND: Optimizing nutrition is essential for recovery after major surgery or severe illness. Feeding tubes (FT) can be placed in patients limited by oral enteral nutrition. Given the myriad of locations in which these procedures are performed (radiology, intensive care unit, and endoscopy suite), routine follow-up is challenging. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the impact of an FT clinic on nutrition. We hypothesized that enrollment in the FT clinic would result in improved nutritional outcomes.

METHODS: Retrospective review of Veteran Affairs Medical Center patients with FTs placed from January 2010 to January 2020. Demographics and body mass index (BMI) were recorded. Serum albumin recorded within 1 month of tube placement was compared to within 1 month of tube removal, death, or at the end of the study period. FT clinic participation required at least 2 visits. Indications for FT placement and duration were recorded. Patients were excluded when both BMI and albumin values were incomplete, and if FTs were placed for decompression.

RESULTS: Ninety-three patients underwent FT placement during the study period; 5 (5%) were excluded. The average age was 64.8±9.7 years, with the majority being male, 85 patients (97%). Eighteen (20%) patients were seen in the FT clinic (FTC) and 70 (80%) were managed outside of FTC (nFTC). There were no differences in age, gender, or indication for FT. Mean albumin increased 0.42±0.85 g/dL in the FTC group versus -0.07±0.72 g/dL in the nFTC group (P=0.037). The FTC group BMI increased, 0.38 kg/m2 vs. -1.48 kg/m2 in nFTC patients, P=0.041. The FTC patients maintained their tubes longer (36.5 vs. 7.0 mo, P=0.0014).

CONCLUSIONS: Patients managed in a dedicated FT clinic experienced an improvement in their serum albumin values and increases in their BMI. In addition, they also maintained their FTs longer. To optimize nutrition and reduce weight loss, patients who require FTs should be enrolled in a dedicated FT clinic.

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