Objectives: The exact time of initiation of total enteral nutrition (TEN) in severe acute pancreatitis (SAP) and its influence on the disease outcome are not well known.
Methods: An analysis of 197 cases with predicted SAP allocated to: group A (n = 97), early TEN (started within the first 48 hours after admission to hospital); and group B (n = 100), delayed TEN (started after 48 hours).
Results: Infection of necrosis/fluid collections occurred in 4 patients in group A and 18 patients in group B (P < 0.05). Respiratory failure and transfer to intensive care unit occurred more frequently in group B than in group A (15 vs 5 and 15 vs 3 patients; P < 0.05). Multiple-organ failure was observed in 9 patients in group A and 16 patients in group B (P > 0.05). Seven patients in group A and 11 patients in group B underwent surgery (P > 0.05). All 9 reported deaths occurred in group B (P < 0.05). The time to start TEN was a predictor of infected necrosis/fluid collection (odds ratio, 4.09; P = 0.028).
Conclusions: Delayed compared to early TEN is associated with higher mortality, increased frequency of infected necrosis/fluid collections, respiratory failure, and a need for intensive care unit hospitalization. Enteral nutrition in SAP should be started within 48 hours after admission to hospital.