Early goal-directed nutrition versus standard of care in adult intensive care patients: the single-centre, randomised, outcome assessor-blinded EAT-ICU trial

Intensive Care Med. 2017 Nov;43(11):1637-1647. doi: 10.1007/s00134-017-4880-3. Epub 2017 Sep 22.


Purpose: We assessed the effects of early goal-directed nutrition (EGDN) vs. standard nutritional care in adult intensive care unit (ICU) patients.

Methods: We randomised acutely admitted, mechanically ventilated ICU patients expected to stay longer than 3 days in the ICU. In the EGDN group we estimated nutritional requirements by indirect calorimetry and 24-h urinary urea aiming at covering 100% of requirements from the first full trial day using enteral and parenteral nutrition. In the standard of care group we aimed at providing 25 kcal/kg/day by enteral nutrition. If this was not met by day 7, patients were supplemented with parenteral nutrition. The primary outcome was physical component summary (PCS) score of SF-36 at 6 months. We performed multiple imputation for data of the non-responders.

Results: We randomised 203 patients and included 199 in the intention-to-treat analyses; baseline variables were reasonably balanced between the two groups. The EGDN group had less negative energy (p < 0.001) and protein (p < 0.001) balances in the ICU as compared to the standard of care group. The PCS score at 6 months did not differ between the two groups (mean difference 0.0, 95% CI -5.9 to 5.8, p = 0.99); neither did mortality, rates of organ failures, serious adverse reactions or infections in the ICU, length of ICU or hospital stay, or days alive without life support at 90 days.

Conclusions: EGDN did not appear to affect physical quality of life at 6 months or other important outcomes as compared to standard nutrition care in acutely admitted, mechanically ventilated, adult ICU patients. Clinicaltrials.gov identifier no. NCT01372176.

Keywords: Clinical outcome; Critical care; Indirect calorimetry; Nutrition; Protein; Quality of life.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Calorimetry
  • Dietary Proteins / therapeutic use
  • Enteral Nutrition / methods*
  • Female
  • Goals
  • Hospital Mortality
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units / statistics & numerical data
  • Intention to Treat Analysis
  • Length of Stay
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Assessment
  • Nutritional Status*
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Parenteral Nutrition / methods*
  • Quality of Life
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Standard of Care
  • Urea / urine


  • Dietary Proteins
  • Urea

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT01372176