Intermittent gastric feeds lower insulin requirements without worsening dysglycemia: A pilot randomized crossover trial

Int J Crit Illn Inj Sci. 2020 Oct-Dec;10(4):200-205. doi: 10.4103/IJCIIS.IJCIIS_112_19. Epub 2020 Dec 29.


Introduction: We hypothesized that critically ill medical patients would require less insulin when fed intermittently.

Methods: First, 26 patients were randomized to receive intermittent or continuous gastric feeds. Once at goal nutrition, data were collected for the first 4-hr data collection period. Next, the enteral feed type was switched, goal nutrition was repeated, and a second 4-h data collection period was completed. The primary endpoint was the total amount of insulin infused; secondary endpoints were glucose concentration mean, maximum, minimum, and standard deviation, as well as episodes of hypoglycemia.

Results: Sixteen of the 26 patients successfully completed the protocol. One patient experienced a large, rapid, and sustained decline in insulin requirement from liver failure, creating a bias of lesser insulin in the intermittent arm; this patient was removed from the analysis. For the remaining 15 patients, the average total amount of insulin infused was 1.4 U/patient/h less following intermittent feeds: P =0.027, 95% confidence interval (0.02, 11.17), and effect size 0.6. Secondary endpoints were statistically similar.

Conclusions: Critically ill medical patients who require an insulin infusion have a reduced insulin requirement when fed intermittently, whereas dysglycemia metrics are not adversely affected. A larger clinical study is required to confirm these findings.

Keywords: Continuous tube feedings; enteral nutrition; intermittent tube feedings; total insulin infused.