Bleeding Associated With Feeding Tube Placement in Critically Ill Oncology Patients With Thrombocytopenia

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Existing trials have not evaluated the feasibility of oral or nasal feeding tube (FT) placement in the critically ill thrombocytopenic oncology population. Thrombocytopenia (TCP) may be considered a contraindication to FT placement due to the potential risk of bleeding complications.


Medical intensive care unit (ICU) adult oncology patients with attempted nasal or oral FT placement were evaluated in a 52-bed ICU at a comprehensive cancer center. End points were compared between patients with and without TCP (platelet count <150,000/μL). Primary outcomes of overt and clinically important bleeding (gastrointestinal and point of entry) were evaluated within 72 hours of FT placement.


Fifty-nine patients were enrolled (TCP, n = 42; no TCP, n = 17; baseline platelet count, 41 ± 48 vs 249 ± 85 [× 103/μL], P < .001). Patients with TCP were more likely to have a hematologic malignancy and lower baseline hemoglobin and platelet count (P < .01). More patients with TCP received blood products 24 hours prior to FT placement (86% vs 12%, P < .01). There was no difference in overt (7.1% vs 0%, P = .55) or clinically important (2.4% vs 5.9%, P = .5) bleeding complications within 72 hours of attempted FT placement among patients with TCP versus those without.


Critically ill oncology patients with TCP do not appear to be at a higher risk for bleeding complications after FT placement compared with those without TCP, which may be related to blood product transfusion within 24 hours prior to FT placement.

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