May 26, 2024

Nutrition on the Go: Advancements in Enteral Feeding Technology

Enteral nutrition refers to the delivery of nutrients directly into the gastrointestinal tract via a tube. This form of nutrition is essential for patients who are unable to consume food orally. Enteral nutrition helps prevent malnutrition and supports the body’s natural ability to digest and absorb nutrients. In this article, we discuss various aspects of enteral nutrition including its uses, methods, considerations and benefits.

Uses of Enteral Nutrition

Enteral nutrition is commonly used for patients who are unable to consume adequate nutrition through the oral route due to medical conditions that temporarily or permanently impair swallowing. Some common situations where enteral tube feeding is prescribed include:

– Critical Illness: Patients recovering from serious illnesses, injuries, or surgeries may require enteral nutrition support during their recovery. This prevents malnutrition at a time when the body needs optimum nutrition.

– Neurological Conditions: Neurological conditions like a stroke, brain injury, or paralysis often impact swallowing ability. Enteral tubes help deliver balanced nutrition in such cases.

– Cancer Treatment: Conditions like head and neck cancer or its treatment through chemotherapy or radiation can impact swallowing. Enteral nutrition supports nourishment during cancer treatment.

– Malnutrition Risk: For patients at high risk of malnutrition due to conditions like chronic liver or kidney disease, enteral nutrition helps prevent further deterioration in health and nutrition status.

– Congenital Conditions: Babies born with congenital conditions affecting swallowing such as cleft palate are often fed enterally until surgery enables oral feeding.

Methods of Enteral Tube Placement

There are different techniques used to place enteral feeding tubes based on the patient’s condition and nutritional requirements:

– Nasogastric Tube: Placed through the nose, down the esophagus and into the stomach. It can be placed at the bedside and is temporary.

– Nasojejunal Tube: Similar to NG tube but placed past the stomach into the jejunum by gauging placement in the small intestine.

– Percutaneous Endoscopic Gastrostomy (PEG) Tube: Placed through the abdomen into the stomach under endoscopic guidance. Is more comfortable and long-term than nasogastric tubes.

– Jejunostomy Tube: Surgically placed opening directly into the jejunum through an abdominal wall incision.

Considerations for Enteral Nutrition

Some key factors that must be considered when initiating enteral nutrition include:

– Formulation: Liquid, semi-solid or solid feeds vary based on condition and tolerance. Disease-specific formulas may be needed.

– Volume and Rate: Small, frequent feedings are better tolerated than large boluses. Rate is increased gradually based on tolerance.

– Monitoring: Regular monitoring for complications and adjustments based on goals, tolerance and lab values.

– Hydration: Adequate fluid intake along with the formula is essential to prevent constipation and tube-related issues.

– Lifestyle: Enteral nutrition requires planning meals, storing supplies and managing the tube to fit daily routines and lifestyle.

Benefits of Enteral Nutrition

When administered appropriately by a qualified health team, enteral nutrition provides several benefits to patients:

– Prevent Malnutrition: Meets nutrition and fluid needs to maintain muscle and weight when oral intake is inadequate.

– Improve Recovery: Supports healing of illnesses or injuries and recovery from medical procedures by providing optimum nutrients.

– Avoid Complications: Reduces risk of infection, organ failure or other complications associated with malnutrition.

– Reduce Hospital Stays: Early introduction of enteral nutrition in critical care settings has shown shorter hospitalization times.

– Cost Effective: Enteral nutrition is a more economical method of providing nutrition support compared to total parenteral nutrition intravenously.

– Maintain Gut Function: Preserves gut structure and function even during periods of low oral intake as nutrients still reach the intestines.

In conclusion, enteral nutrition is a lifesaving and important intervention that enables nourishment when the oral route is compromised. With proper diligence and multidisciplinary care, it supports recovery and rehabilitation of patients facing malnutrition risks.

*Note:
1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile