What Are the Guidelines for Enteral Tube Feeding?


Quick Answer

Patients for whom enteral tube feeding, or ETF, is appropriate include those who are unconscious, those who have swallowing disorders and patients with partial intestinal failure, states the Institute of Human Nutrition. Doctors should start ETF on patients unable to tolerate oral feeding within one to two days after surgery in cases of severely malnourished patients, within three to five days for moderately malnourished patients and within seven days for normal patients.

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Full Answer

ETF is a form of medical treatment, so healthcare providers must take into account the patient's wishes, well-being and best interest in starting, stopping or withholding ETF, advises the Institute of Human Nutrition. In patients who have specific contraindications to ETF, doctors should consider parenteral feeding instead. It is appropriate to delay EFT in patients who can take 50 percent or more of their estimated nutritional requirements through other forms of feeding. It is not appropriate to administer ETF in cases in which prolonging the patient's life is not in his best interest.

It is appropriate to use ETF for patients with uncomplicated pancreatitis. Starting ETF soon after a major gastrointestinal surgery reduces the chance of infection and can shorten the hospital stay, notes the Institute of Human Nutrition. Early initiation of post-pyloric ETF is safe and effective in postoperative patients as well.

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