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Gastroenterology. 1990 Mar;98(3):715-20.

Effect of total enteral nutrition on the short-term outcome of severely malnourished cirrhotics. A randomized controlled trial.

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  • 1Department of Gastroenterology, Hospital de Bellvitge, Barcelona, Spain.


Thirty-five severely malnourished cirrhotic patients were randomized to receive either enteral-tube feeding as the sole nutritional support (n = 16) or an isocaloric, isonitrogenous, low-sodium standard oral diet (n = 19). Both groups were homogeneous regarding age, sex distribution, etiology of liver cirrhosis, history of previous complications, clinical status, liver and renal function, modified Child's score, and nutritional status at admission. The enteral formula diet was energy dense, containing 40 mmol Na/day, whole protein plus branched-chain amino acids, medium- and long-chain triglycerides, and maltodextrin. It supplied 2115 kcal/day. The amount of vitamins and trace elements was at the upper limit of the recommended dietary allowances. The orally fed patients were encouraged to eat all meals served. Total enteral nutrition was well tolerated without major complications. Serum albumin and Child's score improved in the enterally fed patients but not in controls. Mortality rate while in the hospital was lower in patients on enteral feeding than in controls (12% vs 47%). These results show that total enteral nutrition is safe and effective in improving the short-term clinical outcome in severely malnourished cirrhotics.

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