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JPEN J Parenter Enteral Nutr. 2013 Nov;37(6):705-13. doi: 10.1177/0148607113505868. Epub 2013 Oct 10.

Energy estimation and measurement in critically ill patients.

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  • 1Intensive Care Unit, CHR Citadelle, Liege, Belgium.


The estimation of caloric needs of critically ill patients is usually based on energy expenditure (EE), while current recommendations for caloric intake most often rely on a fixed amount of calories. In fact, during the early phase of critical illness, caloric needs are probably lower than EE, as a substantial proportion of EE is covered by the non-inhibitable endogenous glucose production. Hence, the risk of overfeeding is higher during the early phase than the late phase, while the risk of underfeeding is higher during the late phase of critical illness. Therefore, an accurate measurement of EE can be helpful to prevent early overfeeding and late underfeeding. Available techniques to assess EE include predictive equations, calorimetry, and doubly labeled water, the reference method. The available predictive equations are often inaccurate, while indirect calorimetry is difficult to perform for several reasons, including a shortage of reliable devices and technical limitations. In this review, the authors intend to discuss the different techniques and the influence of the method used on the interpretation of the results of clinical studies.


adult; calorimetry; critical care; life cycle; nutrition; research and diseases

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