Gastrointestinal tract access for enteral nutrition in critically ill and trauma patients: Indications, techniques, and complications

M. Tuna, R. Latifi, A. El-Menyar, H. Al Thani

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: Enteral nutrition (EN) is a widely used, standard-of-care technique for nutrition support in critically ill and trauma patients. Objective: To review the current techniques of gastrointestinal tract access for EN. Methods: For this traditional narrative review, we accessed English-language articles and abstracts published from January 1988 through October 2012, using three research engines (MEDLINE, Scopus, and EMBASE) and the following key terms: "enteral nutrition," "critically ill," and "gut access." We excluded outdated abstracts. Results: For our nearly 25-year search period, 44 articles matched all three terms. The most common gut access techniques included nasoenteric tube placement (nasogastric, nasoduodenal, or nasojejunal), as well as a percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG). Other open or laparoscopic techniques, such as a jejunostomy or a gastrojejunostomy, were also used. Early EN continues to be preferred whenever feasible. In addition, evidence is mounting that EN during the early phase of critical illness or trauma trophic feeding has an outcome comparable to that of full-strength formulas. Most patients tolerate EN through the stomach, so postpyloric tube feeding is not needed initially. Conclusion: In critically ill and trauma patients, early EN through the stomach should be instituted whenever feasible. Other approaches can be used according to patient needs, available expertise, and institutional guidelines. More research is needed in order to ensure the safe use of surgical tubes in the open abdomen.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)235-242
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Trauma and Emergency Surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2013


  • Enteral nutrition
  • Feeding tube
  • Gastrojejunostomy
  • Gastrostomy
  • Nasojejunostomy
  • Percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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