Enteral nutrition interruptions in critically ill patients: A prospective study on reasons, frequency and duration of interruptions of nutritional support during ICU stay

Clin Nutr ESPEN. 2022 Dec:52:178-183. doi: 10.1016/j.clnesp.2022.10.019. Epub 2022 Oct 31.


Background & aims: Enteral Nutrition (EN) may be interrupted due to various reasons in the setting of intensive care unit (ICU) care. This study aimed to investigate the reasons, frequency, and duration of EN interruptions in critically ill patients within the first 7 days of ICU stay.

Methods: A total of 122 critically ill patients (median age: 63 years, 57% were males) initiating EN within the first 72 h of ICU admission and continued EN for at least 48 h during ICU stay were included in this observational prospective study conducted at a Medical ICU. Patients were followed for hourly energy intake as well as the frequency, reason, and duration of EN interruptions, for the first seven nutrition days of ICU stay or until death/discharge from ICU.

Results: The median APACHE II score was 22 (IQR, 17-27). The per patient EN interruption frequency was 2.74 and the median total EN interruption duration was 960 (IQR, 105-1950) minutes. The most common reason for EN interruption was radiological procedures (91 episodes) and the longest duration of EN interruption was due to tube malfunctions (1230 min). Target energy intake were achieved on the 6th day at a maximum rate of 89.4%. Logistic regression showed that there was relationship between increased mortality and patients with ≥3 EN interruptions (OR: 6.73 (2.15-30.55), p = 0.004) after adjusting for confounding variables (age and APACHE II score). According to Kaplan Meier analysis, patients with ≥3 EN interruptions had significantly lower median survival times than patients with <3 EN interruptions (24.0 (95% CI 8.5-39.5) vs 18.0 (95% CI 13-23) days, p = 0.014).

Conclusion: During the first week of EN support, the most common reason of EN interruptions was related to radiological procedures and the longest EN interruptions was due to feeding tube malfunctions. There was relationship between ≥3 EN interruptions and increased mortality.

Keywords: Enteral nutrition; Enteral nutrition interruption; Intensive care unit; Target calorie.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Critical Illness* / therapy
  • Enteral Nutrition* / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutritional Support
  • Prospective Studies