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ICU: enteral nutrition

While the mantra “if the gut works, use it” is still widely held to be true, data do not fully support any of the purported advantages of enteral over parenteral nutrition with the exception of lower cost. The concept of bacterial translocation and its minimization by using the intestinal tract is based almost entirely on animal studies.

Advantages of Enteral Nutrition

  • Less expensive
  • Wider array of nutrients can be delivered
  • No IV access needed (infection risk)
  • Animal studies suggest lower bacterial translocation

Uses of Parenteral Nutrition

  • Short Gut Syndrome
  • Bowel obstruction
  • Any other time enteral nutrition is inadequate