Research Article

Relation between osmolality of diet and gastrointestinal side effects in enteral nutrition.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1984; 288 doi: (Published 03 March 1984) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1984;288:678
  1. P P Keohane,
  2. H Attrill,
  3. M Love,
  4. P Frost,
  5. D B Silk


    One hundred and eighteen patients with normal gastrointestinal function were randomly allocated to one of three feeding regimens in a double blind study to determine the relation between the tonicity of the diet and gastrointestinal side effects related to the diet and to evaluate the efficacy of "starter" regimens in reducing gastrointestinal side effects during enteral nutrition. Patients received a hypertonic diet with an osmolality of 430 mmol (mosmol)/kg (group 1), the same diet but with the osmolality increasing from 145 to 430 mmol/kg over the first four days (group 2), or an isotonic diet (300 mmol/kg) (group 3). All diets were prepared aseptically and administered by 24 hour nasogastric infusion. The mean daily nitrogen intake in group 1 was significantly greater (p less than 0.05) than that in both groups 2 and 3, and the mean overall daily nitrogen balance was significantly better (p less than 0.05) in group 1 than groups 2 and 3. The incidence of side effects related to the diet was similar in all three groups, but diarrhoea was significantly (p less than 0.001) associated with concurrent treatment with antibiotics. These findings show that undiluted hypertonic diet results in significantly better nitrogen intake and balance, that starter regimens reduce nutrient intake but not symptoms, and that diarrhoea is significantly related to treatment with antibiotics and not to administration of an undiluted hypertonic polymeric diet.