Effects of Early Versus Delayed Feeding in Patients With Acute Pancreatitis: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

J Clin Gastroenterol. 2023 Jul 10. doi: 10.1097/MCG.0000000000001886. Online ahead of print.


Background: The aim of this study was to summarize the optimal strategy for early feeding in patients with acute pancreatitis.

Methods: The search was undertaken in electronic databases, which compared early with delayed feeding in acute pancreatitis. The primary outcome was the length of hospital stay (LOHS). The second outcomes were intolerance of refeeding, mortality, and total cost of each patient. This meta-analysis followed the "Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses" guideline. Research is registered by PROSPERO, CRD42020192133.

Results: A total of 20 trials involving 2168 patients were included, randomly assigned to the early feeding group (N = 1033) and delayed feeding group (N = 1135). The LOHS was significantly lower in the early feeding group than the delayed feeding group (mean difference: -2.35, 95% CI: -2.89 to -1.80; P < 0.0001), no matter the mild or severe subgroup (Pint = 0.69). The secondary outcome of feeding intolerance and mortality were no significant difference (risk ratio: 0.96, 0.40 to 2.16, P = 0.87 and 0.91, 0.57 to 1.46, P = 0.69; respectively). Moreover, the hospitalization cost was significantly less in the early feeding group, resulting in an average savings of 50%. In patients with severe pancreatitis, early feeding after 24 hours may be beneficial (Pint = 0.001).

Conclusion: Early oral feeding can significantly reduce the LOHS and hospitalization costs in patients with acute pancreatitis without increasing feeding intolerance or mortality. In patients with severe pancreatitis, early feeding after 24 hours may be beneficial.