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Am Surg. 2000 Sep;66(9):866-9.

The effect of abrupt cessation of total parenteral nutrition on serum glucose: a randomized trial.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, California 93105, USA.


The common clinical practice of gradually tapering total parenteral nutrition (TPN) to prevent hypoglycemia may be unnecessary. This randomized prospective study assessed the blood glucose profiles of patients whose TPN was abruptly discontinued in comparison with those whose TPN was gradually tapered to determine whether abrupt cessation can be performed safely. Patients were randomized into the abrupt cessation or the tapered protocol. A symptomatic hypoglycemic questionnaire was administered at regular intervals. Fingerstick glucose sampling was performed at 30-minute intervals and compared prospectively. From October 1996 through July 1997, 21 patients receiving TPN consented to participate in this study. Inclusion criteria included 1) duration of TPN infusion >24 hours, 2) age >18 years, and 3) establishment of enteral feeding at the time of TPN discontinuation. Patients had a baseline blood glucose level followed by repeat glucose measurements at 30-minute intervals until 90 minutes after TPN was completely discontinued in the tapered group and 120 minutes after cessation in the abrupt group. The rate of TPN tapering was in 25 per cent increments over 90-minute intervals. Ten patients were randomized into the tapered group and 11 patients in the abrupt group. None of the patients developed symptomatic hypoglycemia. There was no difference between the lowest blood glucose in the abrupt group in comparison with that of the tapered group (108.6+/-11.5 vs 108.2+/-9.8 respectively; P = 0.98). No patient had a significant change in hypoglycemia questionnaire score. There was no significant difference in age, duration of TPN, steroid use, or enteral caloric intake between the two groups. We conclude that there was no symptomatic hypoglycemia, and glucose profiles returned to a similar baseline level in those whose TPN was abruptly stopped when compared with those in the tapered group. These data demonstrate that patients receiving TPN can have parenteral nutrition abruptly stopped without the development of significant hypoglycemia.

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