Enteral nutrition: when is artificial nutrition needed?
Enteral nutrition: artificially feeding those who cannot be adequately fed by physiological means
Enteral nutrition is indispensable for people suffering from anorexia, digestive stenosis or fistulas, swallowing defects
Compared to parenteral nutrition, this nutrition has the following advantages
- Better preservation of the structure and function of the gastrointestinal tract
- Reduced costs
- Probably fewer complications, especially infections
Specific indications for enteral nutrition include:
- Prolonged anorexia
- Severe protein-energy malnutrition
- Coma or depressed sensorium
- Liver failure
- Inability to take oral nutrition due to head or neck trauma
- Serious illnesses (e.g. burns) causing metabolic stress
Other indications may include bowel preparation for surgery in severely ill or malnourished patients, closure of enterocutaneous fistulas and adaptation of the small intestine after massive bowel resection or in diseases that may cause malabsorption (e.g. Crohn’s disease).
Why enteral nutrition is called artificial:
It is artificial because artificially prepared nutrient mixtures are used with standardised amounts of protein, carbohydrates, lipids, minerals, water, vitamins and trace elements that can fully meet the body’s metabolic requirements.
Such nutrition is very well tolerated and easily managed at home by non-healthcare personnel.
People undergoing artificial nutrition can carry out any kind of activity and, if conditions permit, can also feed themselves by mouth.
Artificial nutrition can be carried out using four methods: nasogastric tube, pharyngostomy tube, gastrostomy tube and jejunostomy tube.