Objective: Current guidelines recommend enteral nutrition in critically ill adults; however, poor gastric motility often prevents nutritional targets being met. We hypothesized that early nasojejunal nutrition would improve the delivery of enteral nutrition.
Design: Prospective, randomized, controlled trial.
Setting: Seventeen multidisciplinary, closed, medical/surgical, intensive care units in Australia.
Patients: One hundred and eighty-one mechanically ventilated adults who had elevated gastric residual volumes within 72 hrs of intensive care unit admission.
Interventions: Patients were randomly assigned to receive early nasojejunal nutrition delivered via a spontaneously migrating frictional nasojejunal tube, or to continued nasogastric nutrition.
Measurements and Main Results: The primary outcome was the proportion of the standardized estimated energy requirement that was delivered as enteral nutrition. Secondary outcomes included incidence of ventilator-associated pneumonia, gastrointestinal hemorrhage, and in-hospital mortality rate. There were 92 patients assigned to early nasojejunal nutrition and 89 to continued nasogastric nutrition. Baseline characteristics were similar. Nasojejunal tube placement into the small bowel was confirmed in 79 (87%) early nasojejunal nutrition patients after a median of 15 (interquartile range 7–32) hrs. The proportion of targeted energy delivered from enteral nutrition was 72% for the early nasojejunal nutrition and 71% for the nasogastric nutrition group (mean difference 1%, 95% confidence interval −3% to 5%, p = .66). Rates of ventilator-associated pneumonia (20% vs. 21%, p = .94), vomiting, witnessed aspiration, diarrhea, and mortality were similar. Minor, but not major, gastrointestinal hemorrhage was more common in the early nasojejunal nutrition group (12 [13%] vs. 3 [3%], p = .02).
Conclusions: In mechanically ventilated patients with mildly elevated gastric residual volumes and already receiving nasogastric nutrition, early nasojejunal nutrition did not increase energy delivery and did not appear to reduce the frequency of pneumonia. The rate of minor gastrointestinal hemorrhage was increased. Routine placement of a nasojejunal tube in such patients is not recommended.