Factors Related to the Use of Early Postoperative Enteral Feeding in Thoracic and Abdominal Surgery Patients in the United States

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Department or Administrative Unit

Nutrition Exercise and Health Sciences

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Early postoperative enteral feeding uses the jejunum, which remains motile and available to absorb nutrients after surgery even while gastric and colonic ileus are present. Current nutrition support guidelines of the American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (ASPEN) encourage feeding patients as soon as possible, beginning no later than 7 days after surgery. Many researchers and practitioners advocate feeding much sooner. Early feeding promotes optimal nutrition in those who are adequately nourished before surgery and minimizes losses in those who are malnourished before surgery. Additional benefits include preservation of gut mass and gut-associated lymphoid tissue, maintenance of general immunocompetence, and attenuation of metabolic complications of surgical stress. Although benefits of early feeding after surgery have been identified, controversies exist. Consensus has not been reached about the period within which introduction of nutrition support is most effective. However, recent research provides additional support for the use of early enteral feeding. The purpose of this study is to provide descriptive information on the use of early postoperative enteral feeding and to explore factors that may be related to the use of this mode of nutrition support.


This article was originally published in Journal of the American Dietetic Association. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.

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Journal of the American Dietetic Association


Copyright © 1997 American Dietetic Association.