Parenteral nutrition in intensive care patients: medicoeconomic aspects

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Purpose of review

Parenteral nutrition (PN) alone or as supplemental parenteral nutrition (SPN) has been shown to prevent negative cumulative energy balance, to improve protein delivery and, in some studies, to reduce infectious morbidity in ICU patients who fail to cover their needs with enteral nutrition (EN) alone.

Recent findings

The optimization of energy provision to an individualized energy target using either early PN or SPN within 3–4 days after admission has recently been reported to be a cost-saving strategy mediated by a reduction of infectious complications in selected intensive care patients.


EN alone is often insufficient, or occasionally contraindicated, in critically ill patients and results in growing energy and protein deficit. The cost benefit of using early PN in patients with short-term relative contraindications to EN has been reported. In selected patients SPN has been associated with a decreased risk of infection, a reduced duration of mechanical ventilation, a shorter stay in the ICU. Altogether four studies have investigated the costs associated with these interventions since 2012: two of them from Australia and Switzerland have shown that optimization of energy provision using SPN results in cost reduction, conflicting with other studies. The latter encouraging findings require further validation.

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