Intraoperative Feeding Improves Calorie and Protein Delivery in Acute Burn Patients

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Enteral nutrition support is a critical component of modern burn care for severely burned patients. However, tube feeds are frequently withheld during the perioperative period because of aspiration concerns. As a result, patients requiring multiple operative procedures risk accumulating significant protein-calorie deficits. The objective of this study was to describe our American Burn Association–certified burn center’s experience implementing an intraoperative feeding protocol in severely burned patients defined as a cutaneous burn ≥20% TBSA. A retrospective review of patients with major thermal injuries (2008–2013). Thirty-three patients with an average of seven operating room trips (range, 2–21 trips) were evaluated. Seventeen patients received intraoperative enteral feeds (protocol group) and 16 patients did not (standard group). Feeding was performed using an enteral feeding tube placed postpylorically and was continued intraoperatively, regardless of operative positioning. There was no statistically significant difference in mortality between the groups (P = .62). No intraoperative aspiration or regurgitation events were recorded. The protocol group received significantly more calculated protein and caloric requirements, 98.06 and 98.4%, respectively, compared with 70.6 and 73.2% in the standard group (P < .001). Time to goal tube feed infusion rate was achieved on average 3 days sooner in the protocol group compared with the standard group (3.35 vs 6.18 days, P = .008). Early initiation and continuation of enteral feeds in severely burned patients led to higher percentages received of prescribed goal protein and caloric needs without increased rates of aspiration, regurgitation, or mortality.

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