Enteral Formulas And Feeding Systems

Using a feeding tube to deliver nutrients directly into the stomach or upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract can be a lifeline for people who are unable to consume an adequate oral diet. Nutrient administration by vein (parenteral nutrition) is another option. Recent research results showing the superior physiologic benefits of enteral feeding over parenteral and favorable third party reimbursement have encouraged clinicians to use enteral tube feeding whenever possible, reserving parenteral nutrition for those with totally dysfunctional GI tracts or in whom enteral feeding tubes cannot be placed (1). Further, the availability of specially designed enteral feeding tubes that can be placed at the bedside, during surgery, or percutaneously using radiologic, endoscopic, or laparoscopic techniques has simplified feeding tube placement and management. These advances plus the availability of a wide variety of standard and condition-specific enteral formulas have made it possible to enterally feed many patients who previously would not have been considered candidates for enteral nutrition support (Table 1).

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