Background: Total enteral nutrition (TEN) within 48 h of admission has recently been shown to be safe and efficacious as part of the management of severe acute pancreatitis. Our aim was to ascertain the safety of immediate TEN in these patients and the effect of TEN on systemic inflammation, psychological state, oxidative stress, plasma glutamine levels and endotoxaemia.
Methods: Patients admitted with predicted severe acute pancreatitis(APACHE II score >5) were randomised to total enteral (TEN; n = 8) or total parenteral nutrition (TPN; n = 9). Measurements of systemic inflammation (C-reactive protein), fatigue (visual analogue scale), oxidative stress (plasma thiobarbituric acid-reactive substances), plasma glutamine and anti-endotoxin IgG and IgM antibody concentrations were made on admission and repeated on days 3 and 7 thereafter. Clinical progress was monitored using APACHE II score. Organ failure and complications were recorded.
Results: All patients tolerated the feeding regime well with few nutrition-related complications. Fatigue improved in both groups but more rapidly in the TEN group. Oxidative stress was high on admission and rose by similar amounts in both groups. Plasma glutamine concentrations did not change significantly in either group. In the TPN group, 3 patients developed respiratory failure and 3 developed non-respiratory single organ failure. There were no such complications in the TEN group. Hospital stay was shorter in the TEN group [7(4-14) vs. 10 (7-26) days; p = 0.05] as was time to passing flatus and time to opening bowels [1 (0-2) vs. 2 (1-5)days; p = 0.01]. The cost of TEN was considerably less than of TPN.
Conclusion: Immediate institution of nutritional support in the form of TEN is safe in predicted severe acute pancreatitis. It is as safe and as efficacious as TPN and may be beneficial in the clinical course of this disease.