Background: According to international guidelines, artificial nutrition may be indicated after pancreaticoduodenectomy (PD). This clinical study was designed to evaluate whether the route of administration and the composition of the postoperative nutritional support could affect outcome.
Methods: One hundred patients who underwent PD for cancer of the pancreatic head were prospectively studied. Patients were randomized to receive a standard enteral formula (SEN; n = 35) or immunonutrition with an enteral formula enriched with arginine, omega-3 fatty acids, and RNA (IEN group; n = 33), or total parenteral nutrition (TPN; n = 32). Postoperative feeding was started within 12 h after surgery. The three regimens were isoenergetic and isonitrogenous. Tolerance of enteral feeding, rate and severity of postoperative complications, and length of hospital stay (LOS) were evaluated.
Results: Full nutritional goal (25 kcal/kg) was achieved in 84% of enterally fed patients versus 96% in the parenteral group (p = NS). The rate of postoperative complications was lower in the IEN group (33%) than in the SEN (40%) and TPN groups (59%). The severity of infectious complications (sepsis score) was lower in the IEN (5.5) than the SEN (7.9) and TPN groups (10.4; p < 0.05). LOS was shorter in the IEN than in the SEN and TPN groups (16.3 vs. 17.8 vs. 19.3 days, respectively; p < 0.05).
Conclusions: In patients undergoing PD the established nutritional goal can be obtained by enteral feeding. Immunonutrition seems to improve outcome.