Objectives: Erythromycin, a macrolide antibiotic, has been shown to mimic the effects of the polypeptide motilin in the gastrointestinal tract. To determine whether erythromycin ethylsuccinate elixir would facilitate the transpyloric passage of a standard nasoenteric feeding tube once the tube was placed into the stomach, 20 patients were randomized to receive erythromycin or standard therapy.
Methods: Twenty patients (ages 45-78), mean age 63 yr, all male, had 43-inch nasoenteric tubes placed and were randomized to receive erythromycin ethylsuccinate elixir (400 mg/5 ml per os every 8 h for three doses) through the feeding tube or to receive standard therapy that involved no drug intervention.
Results: Three placements resulted in immediate transpyloric passage. This represented 3/21 (14%) with immediate passage. One patient dropped out after initial tube placement. The remaining 17 patients had initial tube placement in the stomach; of these, eight were randomized to receive erythromycin and nine to receive standard therapy. Six of the eight nasoenteric tubes in the erythromycin group achieved transpyloric passage in 1 day. Zero of the nine nasoenteric tubes in the standard therapy group achieved transpyloric passage in 1 day (p = 0.0023, Fisher's exact test).
Conclusion: This study demonstrates that erythromycin ethylsuccinate elixir improves the success of transpyloric feeding tube passage in 1 day and is superior to the standard therapy, which consists of no drug intervention.