Allowing a patient's nutritional state to deteriorate through the perioperative period adversely affects measureable outcome related to nosocomial infection, multiple organ dysfunction, wound healing, and functional recovery.Careful preoperative nutritional assessment should include a determination of the level of stress, an evaluation of the status of the GI tract, and the development of specific plans for securing enteral access. Patients already demonstrating compromise of nutritional status (defined by > 10% weight loss and serum albumin level < 2.5 g/dL) should be considered for a minimum of 7 to 10 days of nutritional repletion prior to surgery. Widespread use of total parenteral nutrition in unselected patients is unwarranted, may actually worsen outcome, and should be reserved for preoperative nutritional support only in severely malnourished patients in whom the GI tract is unavailable. Compared with the parenteral route, use of perioperative enteral feeding has been shown to provide more consistent and beneficial results, and can be expected to promote specific advantages in long-term morbidity and mortality.
(CHEST 1999; 115:64S-70S)