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Effect of Route of Delivery and Formulation of Postoperative Nutritional Support in Patients Undergoing Major Operations for Malignant Neoplasms

Luca Gianotti, MD, ScD; Marco Braga, MD; Andrea Vignali, MD; Gianpaolo Balzano, MD; Alessandro Zerbi, MD; Pietro Bisagni, MD; Valerio Di Carlo, MD
Arch Surg. 1997;132(11):1222-1230. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1997.01430350072012.
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Objective:  To study the effect of the route of delivery and formulation of postoperative nutritional support on host defense, protein metabolism, infectious complications, and outcome.

Design:  Prospective, randomized, clinical trial.

Setting:  Department of Surgery at a university hospital.

Patients:  Two hundred sixty candidates for pancreaticoduodenectomy or gastrectomy for cancer.

Interventions:  Patients were randomly allocated into 3 groups during surgery. Starting 6 hours after operation, the first group received a standard enteral formula (standard group; n=87); the second, the same enteral formula enriched with arginine, ω-3 fatty acids, and RNA (immunonutrition group; n=87); and the third, total parenteral nutrition (parenteral group; n=86). The 3 regimens were isocaloric and isonitrogenous. The nutritional goal was 105 kJ/kg per day.

Main Outcome Measures:  Immune response by phagocytosis ability of polymorphonuclear cells, interleukin (IL)-2 receptor levels, and delayed hypersensitivity response; protein synthesis by IL-6 and prealbumin; tolerance of enteral feeding; incidence of postoperative complications; and length of hospital stay.

Results:  The immunonutrition group had a significantly better recovery of the immune parameters on postoperative day 8 compared with the other groups. Linear regression analysis showed an inverse correlation between IL-6 and preambulin levels (r=0.766) only in the immunonutrition group. Only 11 patients (6.3%) in both enteral groups did not reach the nutritional goal. Postoperative infection rate was 14.9% (13/87) in the immunonutrition group, 22.9% (20/87) in the standard group, and 27.9% (24/86) in the parenteral group (P=.06). Mean±SD length of hospital stay was 16.1±6.2,19.2±7.9, and 21.6±8.9 days in the immunonutrition, standard, and parenteral groups, respectively (P=.01 vs standard group; P=.004 vs parenteral group).

Conclusions:  Early postoperative enteral feeding is a valid alternative to parenteral feeding in patients undergoing major surgery. Immunonutrition enhances the host response, induces a switch from acute-phase to constitutive proteins, and improves outcome.Arch Surg. 1997;132:1222-1230


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