Prevalence, Outcomes, and Management of Enteral Tube Feeding Intolerance: A Retrospective Cohort Study in a Tertiary Center

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Background: Enteral tube feeding (ETF) is the most common form of artificial feeding in hospitalized patients, and the development of intolerance (ETFI) is the most common complication. This study aimed to determine the prevalence of ETFI, the clinical consequences, and the current management approach to ETFI in hospitalized adult patients. Materials and Methods: Adult patients receiving ETF were identified from a prospective database in the Nutrition Services at Auckland City Hospital. Further information was obtained by the review of clinical records for a 12-month period, up to December 2014. Results: The prevalence of ETFI was 33% among 754 patients. ETFI more frequently occurred in the intensive care unit (P < .05). Patients with ETFI were less likely to reach their feeding goal rate (P < .01). Multivariate analysis showed that younger age, certain specialties, and acute mesenteric ischemia were independent predictors of ETFI (P < .05). The management of ETFI was highly variable. Medication was the most common treatment, while changes in the feeding protocol such as reducing infusion rate and stopping and changing the route of ETF were also frequently attempted. Conclusion: ETFI is a frequent problem in adult hospitalized patients receiving ETF, and it is associated with poor clinical outcomes such as inadequate nutrition and complications of feeding. While the pathophysiology is poorly understood, there also appears to be no standard evidence-based treatment. Studies investigating the mechanisms and optimized management are therefore indicated.

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