Early enteral nutrition is reported to improve outcome of patients with severe closed head injuries (CHI). The efficacy and safety of nasoenteric tube (NET) feeds, however, has been questioned; the risk of aspiration is the major concern. Our purpose was to determine the rate of transpyloric migration, the efficacy of adjunctive measures to promote passage, and the effect on pulmonary complications. Seventy-four consecutive patients with moderate to severe CHI received enteral nutrition. Glasgow Coma Scale (GSC) score was 5.2 on admission and 6.9 at 48 hours. NETs were placed an average of 5.6 days after admission; an average of three abdominal films per patient were used to assess tube position. No patients had endoscopic NET placement during this period. Ten patients required fluoroscopic placement after failure to pass spontaneously by 5 days. Overall, transpyloric passage was achieved in 32 patients (43%), whereas 42 (57%) remained intragastric. There were no differences between the postpyloric and intragastric groups in days to full feeding (5 vs. 7 days), ventilator days (11.9 vs. 12.5), intensive care unit length of stay (15.5 vs. 15.1), or incidence of pneumonia (81 vs. 69%) or aspiration (6 vs 7%). Sixty-two patients (83%) were transferred to extended care facilities and 50 (68%) were still receiving NET feedings. Spontaneous transpyloric passage of NET occurred in less than one-half of patients with severe CHI. The routine use of adjunctive measures to promote transpyloric passage was not particularly successful, had no obvious benefit, and therefore may not be necessary.
View details for Web of Science ID A1995TL90500015
View details for PubMedID 7500401