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Enteral versus parenteral nutrition in acute pancreatitis.

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Department of Surgery, St James's University Hospital, Leeds, UK.


Conventional wisdom has previously dictated that, in order to avoid stimulation of pancreatic secretion during acute pancreatitis, and thus avoid the perpetuation of the enzymatic activation from which the pancreatitis originated, enteral feeding should be avoided. With greater understanding of the potential role of the gastrointestinal tract in the development of a systemic inflammatory response within a number of scenarios, this dogma has recently been challenged. Moreover, there is some evidence to suggest that starving the gastrointestinal tract and providing nutritional support via the parenteral route may be associated with an increased incidence of septic complications. Experimental and clinical evidence suggests that feeding the gut may diminish intestinal permeability to endotoxin and diminish bacterial translocation, thus reducing the cytokine drive to the generalized inflammatory response and preventing organ dysfunction. Preliminary experience suggests that the institution of jejunal (but not gastric or duodenal) nutrition within 48 hours of the onset of severe acute pancreatitis diminishes endotoxic exposure, diminishes the cytokine and systemic inflammatory responses, avoids antioxidant consumption and does not cause the radiological appearances of the pancreas to deteriorate. These observations are paralleled by improvements in clinical outcome measures such as intensive care unit stay, septic complications and mortality. Whist parenteral nutrition continues to have a role in the management of acute pancreatitis particularly when complicated by fistulae or prolonged ileus, the early introduction of jejunal nutrition merits further investigation in acute pancreatitis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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