Effects of intravenous medium-chain triglycerides on pulmonary gas exchanges in mechanically ventilated patients

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In mechanically ventilated patients, pulmonary gas exchange was investigated during the administration of total parenteral nutrition containing medium-chain triglycerides or long-chain triglycerides as fat emulsions.


Prospective, randomized, crossover trial (two lipid infusion periods of 8 hrs).


Intensive care unit in a university hospital.


Six mechanically ventilated patients, using the pressure-support mode.


Total caloric intake was adapted according to measured energy expenditure. Fat emulsion provided 50% of the energy expenditure. Patients were infused with 50% medium-chain/50% long-chain triglycerides or 100% long-chain triglycerides in a random sequence.

Measurements and Main Results

Oxygen consumption, CO2 production, and minute ventilation were measured by indirect calorimetry. Pao2 and Paco2 were determined in blood samples. Medium-chain triglycerides increased oxygen consumption by 27.8% and minute ventilation by 14.3% at the end of the protocol. CO2 production, Pao2, and Paco2 were not different between groups.


Medium-chain triglycerides cause an increase in metabolic demand in mechanically ventilated patients when they are infused over a short period. Postoperative or intensive care unit patients with a low pulmonary reserve should receive infusions of medium-chain triglycerides over a more prolonged period than long-chain triglycerides. (Crit Care Med 1994; 22:248–251)

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