Safety of minimizing preoperative starvation in critically ill and intubated trauma patients

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BackgroundCessation of enteral nutrition prior to an operation/procedure is the most common reason for feeding interruption in critically ill trauma patients and contributes to substantial calorie deficits. This study reports on a strategy to increase calorie intake by continuing feeds until transfer for operations/procedures.METHODSNutrition guidelines were modified in 2006 to allow continuation of feeding in intubated patients up until transfer to the operating room. Prior to 2006, enteral feeding was stopped at least 6 hours prior to surgery. A retrospective cohort design from 2003 to 2010 compared clinical outcomes in groups of adult trauma subjects before and after guideline changes and in subjects at other centers without guideline changes.RESULTSDuring the first week, subjects in the preimplementation cohort (n = 245) received a median of 3,787 kcal per person per week, while subjects in the postimplementation cohort (n = 368) received a median of 6,662 kcal per person per week (p < 0.001). There was no change in calorie intake for subjects at other centers (n = 1,002). The risks of acute respiratory distress syndrome, pneumonia, and mortality were decreased after implementation relative to the preimplementation cohort (acute respiratory distress syndrome: relative risk ratio [RR], 0.69; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.59–0.81; pneumonia: RR, 0.82; 95% CI, 0.65–1.00; mortality: RR, 0.67; 95% CI, 0.46–0.99). Ventilator-free days increased by 1.4 days (95% CI, 0.1–2.7), while intensive care unit stay and hospital length of stay were unchanged. These outcomes showed similar trends over time at other participating centers.CONCLUSIONSAllowing intubated trauma patients to continue enteral nutrition until transfer for operations or procedures was associated with increased caloric intake without evidence of increased pulmonary complications. This represents an important strategy to reduce calorie deficits in the trauma intensive care unit.Level of EvidenceTherapeutic study/care management, level III.

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