Practical Aspects of Enteral Nutrition
Enteral nutrition has proved to be a very effective way of providing nutritional support to malnourished patients. It is important to emphasise the fact that most patients requiring nutritional support have normal or near normal gastrointestinal function. Consequently in all these patients, attempts should be made to administer nutrients via the enteral rather than the parenteral route. Apart from the cost factors involved, the complications that can develop during parenteral nutrition are more serious than those associated with enteral nutrition. In the overall context of nutritional support, enteral nutrition can be defined as the administration of nutrients to patients via the gastrointestinal tract and there are broadly speaking three ways in which this can be achieved. First, liquidised food can be given orally to patients not able to ingest solid food, examples are those who have problems with mastication and those with mechanical dysphagia to solid foods. Secondly, palatable diets can be administered orally, either as the sole form of nutritional intake or as nutritional supplements in the case of patients who are able to eat, but are eating insufficient quantities of normal food. Finally a wide range of enteric diets can be administered to patients via feeding tubes placed in the stomach, duodenum or small bowel. We have found this to be the most effective way of providing nutritional support via the enteral route and most of our patients receiving enteral nutrition are fed in this way.
KeywordsEnteral Nutrition Nutritional Support Enteral Feeding Short Bowel Syndrome Protein Losing Enteropathy
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