The incidence of ventilator-associated pneumonia and success in nutrient delivery with gastric versus small intestinal feeding: A randomized clinical trial

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Enteral feeding provides nutrients for patients who require endotracheal tubes and mechanical ventilation. There is a presumed increase in the risk of ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) with tube feeding. This has stimulated the development of procedures for duodenal intubation and small intestinal (SI) feeding as primary prophylaxes to prevent VAP.


To investigate the rate of VAP and adequacy of nutrient delivery with gastric (G) vs. SI feeding.


A prospective, randomized, controlled trial.


A medical intensive care unit of a county hospital.


A total of 44 endotracheally intubated, mechanically ventilated patients requiring enteral nutrition.


Subjects were randomized to receive enteral nutrition via G or SI feeding. Protocols directed the placement of the feeding tube and the infusion of enteral nutrition and defined the radiographic and clinical criteria for a diagnosis of VAP.

Measurements and Outcomes

The incidence of VAP and the adequacy of nutritional supplementation were prospectively followed. The relative risk of VAP with SI was 1.1 (95% confidence interval 0.96–2.44) compared with G. The SI group received a greater percentage of their caloric requirements (SI 69 ± 7% vs. G 47 ± 7%, mean ± sem, p < .05). Mortality did not differ between G (26 ± 9%) and SI (24 ± 10, p = .86).


There is no clear difference in the incidence of VAP in SI compared with G enteral nutrition. Patients given feeding into the SI do receive higher calorie and protein intakes.

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