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Enteral Nutrition

Enteral nutrition support is indicated when the patient is unable to cover his nutritional needs by normal nutrition alone.

Enteral nutrition allows a physiological utilization of nutrients and is believed to promote gut function and prevent translocation of intestinal bacteria. However, choosing the right feeding method and formula to achieve quality nutritional care is a daily challenge for health care practitioners and dietitians around the world. There are different ways to get access to the gastrointestinal tract.

The choice between the enteral or parenteral route is decided very simply by the question "Is the gastrointestinal tract functional?"

Indications for Enteral Nutrition

  • Where oral diet is not possible
  • EN in ICU patients: All patients who are not expected to be on a full oral diet within 3 days should receive EN (C).1
  • In patients losing weight due to insufficient nutritional intake, enteral nutrition should be provided to improve or maintain nutritional status.2
  • Preoperative: Patients with severe nutritional risk benefit from nutrtional support 10-14 d prior to major surgery even if surgery has to be delayed.
  • Supplementary Enteral Nutrition is indicated when patients cannot meet their caloric requirments through normal food.3

Routes of administration

  • Sip feed
  • Naso-jejunal tube
  • Gastral tube feeding


  • 1. K.G. Kreymann et al.,ESPEN Guidelines on Enteral Nutrition: Intensive care, Clinical Nutrition (2006) 25, 210-223
  • 2. A. Weimann et al., ESPEN Guidelines on Enteral Nutrition: Surgery including Organ Transplantation, Clinical Nutrition (2006) 25, 224-244
  • 3. M. Plauth et al. ESPEN Guidelines on Enteral Nutrition: Liver disease, Clinical Nutrition (2006) 25, 285-294