Pediatric intestinal failure (IF) is a rare and complex condition associated with significant morbidity and mortality. It is defined as the reduction of gut mass or function below the minimal needed for absorption of nutrients and fluid to sustain life and growth. Since the advent of specialized multidisciplinary intestinal rehabilitation centers, IF management has considerably evolved in the last years, but serious complications of long-term parenteral nutrition (PN) can occur. Main complications include intestinal failure-associated liver disease, growth failure, body composition imbalance, central venous access complications, micronutrient deficiencies and toxicities, metabolic bone disease, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, and renal disease. With improvement in survival rates of patients over the last 20 years, emphasis should be on limiting IF-related comorbidities and improving quality of life. Close monitoring is pivotal to ensuring quality of care of these patients. The care of children with chronic IF should involve a comprehensive monitoring plan with flexibility for individualization according to specific patient needs. Monitoring of children on long-term PN varies significantly across units and is mainly based on experience, although few guidelines exist. This narrative review summarizes the current knowledge and practices related to monitoring of children with IF. The authors also share their 20-year experience at the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne Australia on this topic.
Keywords: children; complications; intestinal failure; monitoring; parenteral nutrition.