Assuring adequate enteral nutritional support in critically ill patients is challenging. By describing our experience, we sought to characterize the challenges, benefits, and complications of an approach that stresses enteral nutrition.
We examined nutritional support received by victims of blunt trauma from 8 trauma centers. We grouped patients according to mean daily enteral caloric intake during the first 7 days. Group 1 received the fewest (0 kcal/kg/d) and group 5 the greatest (16 to 30 kcal/kg/d) number of calories in the first week. We focused our analyses on the patients remaining in the ICU for 8 days or longer and compared clinical outcomes among the groups.
There were 1,100 patients in the ICU for 8 days or longer. Patients receiving the greatest number of enteral calories during the first week (group 5) had the highest incidence of ventilator-associated pneumonia (49%) and the lowest incidence of bacteremia (14%). Use of parenteral nutrition was associated with bacteremia (adjusted odds ratio = 2.5; 95% CI, 1.8–3.5), ventilator-associated pneumonia (adjusted odds ratio = 2.4; 95% CI, 1.7–3.3), and death (adjusted odds ratio = 1.9; 95% CI, 1.1–3.1).
Enteral caloric intake during the first week was related to the pattern and severity of injury and was associated with important infectious outcomes. Our observations support moderating enteral intake during the first week after injury and avoiding parenteral nutrition.