Medical Practice

Long-term parenteral nutrition

Br Med J 1978; 2 doi: (Published 22 July 1978) Cite this as: Br Med J 1978;2:262
  1. Karin Ladefoged,
  2. Stig Jarnum


    Nineteen patients (11 women and eight men) aged 20-68 received long-term parenteral nutrition, mostly at home, for six to 63 months (mean 19 months). Indications for LTPN were extensive, active Crohn's disease in three patients, intestinocutaneous fistulas in three, and short-bowel syndrome in the remaining 13 patients. Subclavian or intra-atrial (Broviac) catheters were most commonly used, for which the average life was four and seven months respectively. Complications of long-term parenteral nutrition included pneumothorax in four out of 48 subclavian vein punctures. Catheter-induced thrombosis of central veins was shown by phlebography 17 times in nine patients, and eight episodes of total occlusion occurred. Two of these patients had pulmonary infarction. Nineteen episodes of catheter sepsis occurred in 11 patients, but only one was fatal. Complications related to intestinal disease included intra-abdominal abscesses and intestinal fistulas, and disturbances of liver function. Five patients died, though in only two was death related to long-term parenteral nutrition. One of these patients died from catheter sepsis, the other had subdural haematoma possibly caused by anticoagulant treatment. Eight of the 14 surviving patients still needed parenteral nutrition. All received a disability pension, but six had an acceptable quality of life with almost normal social activities.

    Despite problems such as difficulties in maintaining standardised infusion programmes, it was concluded that long-term parenteral nutrition at home is practicable and consistent with an acceptable quality of life.

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