Importance: Monitoring of residual gastric volume is recommended to prevent ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) in patients receiving early enteral nutrition. However, studies have challenged the reliability and effectiveness of this measure.
Objective: To test the hypothesis that the risk of VAP is not increased when residual gastric volume is not monitored compared with routine residual gastric volume monitoring in patients receiving invasive mechanical ventilation and early enteral nutrition.
Design, setting, and patients: Randomized, noninferiority, open-label, multicenter trial conducted from May 2010 through March 2011 in adults requiring invasive mechanical ventilation for more than 2 days and given enteral nutrition within 36 hours after intubation at 9 French intensive care units (ICUs); 452 patients were randomized and 449 included in the intention-to-treat analysis (3 withdrew initial consent).
Intervention: Absence of residual gastric volume monitoring. Intolerance to enteral nutrition was based only on regurgitation and vomiting in the intervention group and based on residual gastric volume greater than 250 mL at any of the 6 hourly measurements and regurgitation or vomiting in the control group.
Main outcome measures: Proportion of patients with at least 1 VAP episode within 90 days after randomization, as assessed by an adjudication committee blinded to patient group. The prestated noninferiority margin was 10%.
Results: In the intention-to-treat population, VAP occurred in 38 of 227 patients (16.7%) in the intervention group and in 35 of 222 patients (15.8%) in the control group (difference, 0.9%; 90% CI, -4.8% to 6.7%). There were no significant between-group differences in other ICU-acquired infections, mechanical ventilation duration, ICU stay length, or mortality rates. The proportion of patients receiving 100% of their calorie goal was higher in the intervention group (odds ratio, 1.77; 90% CI, 1.25-2.51; P = .008). Similar results were obtained in the per-protocol population.
Conclusion and relevance: Among adults requiring mechanical ventilation and receiving early enteral nutrition, the absence of gastric volume monitoring was not inferior to routine residual gastric volume monitoring in terms of development of VAP.
Trial registration: clinicaltrials.gov Identifier: NCT01137487.