Comparison of postpyloric tube feeding and gastric tube feeding in intensive care unit patients: a meta-analysis

Nutr Clin Pract. 2013 Jun;28(3):371-80. doi: 10.1177/0884533613485987. Epub 2013 Apr 24.


Background and objective: Enteral feeding is vital in the critical care setting; however, the optimal route of enteral feeding (postpyloric vs gastric feeding) remains debated. We aimed to systematically review the current evidence to see whether postpyloric feeding could provide additional benefits to intensive care unit (ICU) patients.

Method: Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) comparing the efficacy and safety of postpyloric feeding vs gastric feeding were included in our systematic review. Odds ratio (OR) was used for binary outcome data and weighted mean difference (WMD) was used for continuous outcome data. Summary effects were pooled using a fixed or random effects model as appropriate.

Results: Seventeen RCTs were included in our meta-analysis. Postpyloric tube feeding could deliver higher proportions of estimated energy requirement (WMD, 12%; 95% confidence interval [CI], 5%-18%) and reduce the gastric residual volume (GRV) (WMD, -169.1 mL; 95% CI, -291.995 to -46.196 mL). However, the meta-analysis failed to demonstrate any benefits to critically ill patients with postpyloric tube feeding in terms of mortality (OR, 1.05; 95% CI, 0.77-1.44), new-onset pneumonia (OR, 0.77; 95% CI, 0.53-1.13), and aspiration (OR, 1.20; 95% CI, 0.64-2.25). There was no significant publication bias as represented by an Egger's bias coefficient of 0.21 (95% CI, -1.01 to 1.43; P = .7).

Conclusion: As compared with gastric feeding, postpyloric feeding is able to deliver higher proportions of the estimated energy requirement and can help reduce the GRV.

Keywords: enteral nutrition; meta-analysis; nutritional support; pneumonia, aspiration; respiratory aspiration; respiratory aspiration of gastric contents.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Critical Care*
  • Energy Intake
  • Enteral Nutrition / methods*
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Intubation, Gastrointestinal / methods*
  • Length of Stay
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Treatment Outcome