Summary and conclusion

EN is an important method of feeding patients who cannot or should not eat enough to meet their nutrient requirements for a prolonged time. When the GI tract can be used safely, EN is preferred over PN. Various types of enteral access devices are available. Whereas tubes inserted through the nose often are adequate for patients expected to receive EN for a short time, more permanent devices (endoscopically or surgically placed) are preferred for longer-term patients. Choice of whether to feed into the stomach or postpylorically is patient-specific. Although numerous EN formulas are available commercially, many products are very similar, making a limited formulary feasible. Data supporting many of the specialized types of EN formulas are limited. Although complications of EN tend to be less serious than those of PN, the adverse effects encountered can be significant, and diligent ongoing monitoring is necessary. Although medications can be administered through feeding tubes, various factors must be taken into account in each individual patient to ensure that this practice is prudent.

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