Parenteral Nutrition

When a patient cannot eat any or enough food because of an illness or health complication, sometimes other forms of nutrition are required to assist the patient towards better health. The stomach or bowel may not be working normally, or a person may have had surgery to remove part or all of these organs. When this occurs, and a patient or client is unable to eat, nutrition must be supplied in a different way. One method that can be applied is Parenteral Nutrition.

Parenteral Nutrition bypasses the normal digestion in the stomach and bowel. It is a special liquid food mixture given into the blood through an intravenous (IV) catheter (needle in the vein). The mixture contains proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, vitamins and minerals. This special mixture may be called Parenteral Nutrition or Total Parenteral Nutrition (TPN).

A special IV catheter will be placed in a large vein in the chest or arm. It can stay in place for as long as needed. Proper care is required to avoid infection and clotting. Different kinds of catheters may be used. Common types of catheters are Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter (PICC), triple lumen, double lumen, or single lumen catheters, and Ports. Nutrition is given through this large vein. Coordinated care, consisting of doctors, nurses, RDs, and pharmacists, will talk with the patient about the different types of catheters prior to administering anything.

Prior to initiating TPN, a nutrition assessment is necessary to determine nutrient needs and to anticipate any metabolic changes that may occur due to the patient’s underlying condition, medications or concurrent therapies, etc. Important factors to consider when assessing a patient for TPN are:

·         Anthropometric Data: CBW, Wt Hx, IBW

·         Lab Values: Mg levels, Phosphorus levels, TG levels

·         Patient Medical History (PMH): Anatomy resections, ostomies, pre-existing conditions like diabetes or renal failure

·         Diet History: Diet prior to admission, Food/Drug Allergies

·         Medications: Current medications and supplements

TPN_All tube feedings