Enteral nutrition: an overview
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Enteral nutrition: an overview

Susan Holmes Director of research, Development and knowledge exchange, Faculty of Health and Social Care, Canterbury Christ Church University, Kent

Many patients are unable to eat, while others are malnourished and therefore may need nutritional support. Encouraging adequate consumption of a well-balanced diet, possibly supplemented with additional snacks and nutritious drinks, is the simplest and cheapest means of providing effective nutritional care to such patients, enteral feeding may be required. In the short term, this may mean feeding through a nasogastric or nasojejunal tube. For longer periods, permanent feeding access is indicated, most commonly through a gastrostomy. Percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy is a minimally invasive technique that places a feeding tube into the stomach or jejunum and is considered to be relatively simple and safe, while causing minimal discomfort. However, both methods of enteral feeding have been associated with risks to patient safety which are discussed. Despite this, enteral feeding is increasingly used to ensure patients meet their nutritional needs in hospital and the community.

Nursing Standard. 26, 39, 41-46. doi: 10.7748/ns2012.



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