Early nutrition support in critical care: a European perspective

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Purpose of reviewToday, early nutrition support is considered standard care in most ICUs. The recommended method is the enteral route, although there is only minor evidence for this. Often inadequate delivery of energy and a cumulative energy deficit are implied. The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the indication for early enteral nutrition or immunonutrition and to discuss the application of additional parenteral nutrition.Recent findingsThe indication for early enteral nutrition is also supported by guidelines for enteral nutrition recently published by the European Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism. Some more recent results strengthen the indication for a special formula in acute respiratory distress syndrome and septic patients. A recent metaanalysis has shown that parenteral nutrition is superior to delayed enteral nutrition. Additional parenteral nutrition thus seems to be the way to avoid cumulative energy deficit associated with insufficient or no enteral nutrition.SummaryEarly enteral nutrition is recommended for critically ill patients, with special formulas indicated in specific subgroups of patients. If enteral nutrition is insufficient or fails, parenteral nutrition should be instituted, respecting the often reduced demand for exogenous substrates in critically ill patients.

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