Gravity Flow in Proposed Enteral Tube Small-Bore Connectors

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Abstract

Background: Enteral nutrition (EN) misconnections have been identified as a serious and potential deadly problem. An international effort led by EN industry leaders has developed a small-bore enteral connector (ENFit) that in theory will reduce the frequency of misconnections. Despite the potential benefit of preventing misconnections, the full impact of adoption of the ENFit connector is unknown. To assess the impact of transitioning to ENFit on our home EN (HEN) patients, the current study evaluated gravity feeding comparing 2 proposed small-bore connectors to the legacy (current connector) using various commercial formulas. Methods: Six commonly used enteral formulas in our facility with varying density and viscosity were tested in triplicate. Forty milliliters of formula was poured into a syringe connected to an ENFit or legacy (current) feeding connector attached to varying French size tubes. The time it took formula to flow through the connectors was recorded, and the test was repeated in triplicate. Results: All formulas took significantly longer to flow through the first ENFit connector compared with the legacy connector (P < .05). The second ENFit connector demonstrated similar flow dynamics to the legacy connector. Conclusions: There is wide variability in the flow dynamics in ENFit connectors with significant potential impact on many facets of HEN, including medicine delivery, blenderized feeds, venting, and compliance with EN due to increased time to administer feeds. We highly recommend additional testing of flow dynamics, including gravity flow, as ENFit tubes are being developed and adopted.

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