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A.K. Gergen, P. Hosokawa, C. Irwin, M.J. Cohen, F.L. Wright, C.G. Velopulos, E.J. Kovacs, R.C. McIntyre Jr, J.-P. Idrovo

Jour Nursing Home Res 2021;7:47-54

Objectives: Elderly patients requiring emergency general surgery (EGS) are at high risk for complications due to preexisting malnutrition. Thus, correcting nutritional deficits perioperatively is essential to improve outcomes. However, even in patients unable to tolerate enteral nutrition, initiation of parenteral nutrition (PN) is often delayed due to concerns of associated complications. In this study, we hypothesized that in elderly EGS patients with relative short-term contraindications to enteral nutrition, early administration of PN is as safe as delayed administration. Furthermore, early PN may improve outcomes by enhancing caloric intake and combatting malnutrition in the immediate perioperative period. Design and Setting: A single-institution, retrospective review was performed at a quaternary academic medical center. Participants: Participants consisted of 58 elderly patients >65 years of age admitted to the EGS service who required PN between July 2017 and July 2020. Measurements: Postoperative outcomes of patients started on PN on hospital day 0-3 (early initiation) were compared to patients started on PN on hospital day 4 or later (late initiation). Bivariate analysis was conducted using the Chi-square or Fisher’s exact test for categorical variables and the Wilcoxon-Mann-Whitney test and F-test for continuous variables. Results: Fifty-eight patients met inclusion criteria, with 27 (46.6%) patients receiving early PN and 31 (53.4%) receiving late PN. Both groups shared similar baseline characteristics, including degree of frailty, body mass index, and nutritional status at time of admission. Complications associated with PN administration were negligible, with no instances of central venous catheter insertion-related complications, catheter-associated bloodstream infection, or factors leading to early termination of PN therapy. A significantly higher proportion of patients in the early administration group met 60% of their caloric goal within 72 hours of admission (62.9% versus 19.5%, p=0.0007). Patients receiving late PN demonstrated a significantly higher rate of unplanned admission to the intensive care unit (38.7% versus 14.8%, p=0.04). Moreover, there was a 21.5% reduction in mortality among patients in the early initiation group compared to patients in the late initiation group (33.3% versus 54.8%, p=0.10). Conclusions: Early initiation of PN in hospitalized elderly EGS patients was not associated with increased adverse events compared to patients undergoing delayed PN administration. Furthermore, patients receiving early PN demonstrated a 2.6-fold decrease in the rate of unplanned admission to the intensive care unit and trended toward improved mortality. Based on these results, further prospective studies are warranted to further explore the safety and potential benefits of early PN administration in elderly surgical patients unable to receive enteral nutrition.


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