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J Pediatr. 2001 Jun;138(6):822-5.

Continuous enteral feeding impairs gallbladder emptying in infants.

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Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Fazakerley Hospital, Liverpool, United Kingdom.



The objective was to test the hypothesis that continuous enteral feeding impairs gallbladder emptying in infants.


A prospective crossover study was performed in 15 infants: (1) bolus enteral feeds were given in phase A, (2) a continuous milk feed was given for 3 days in phase B, and (3) bolus feeds were resumed in phase C. The gallbladder was studied with ultrasonography in phase A, on days 1 and 3 of phase B, and at the start and on days 2 and 4 of phase C.


Baseline volume was 116.1 mm(3) (range, 48.1 to 374.8 mm(3)) in phase A and 293.3 mm(3) (range, 109.4 to 1134.9 mm(3)) (P <.001) after 3 days of phase B; it returned to the phase A value after 4 days of phase C. The contraction index was 65.2% (range, 40.6% to 78.2%) in phase A and 1.7% (range, 0% to 8.4%) (P <.001) after 3 days of phase B. It returned to its phase A value immediately after bolus enteral feeds were resumed in phase C.


Continuous enteral feeding leads to an enlarged, noncontractile gallbladder in infants. Emptying is observed immediately after bolus feeds are resumed, and volume returns to baseline after 4 days. The mode of feeding has important bearings on the motility of the extrahepatic biliary tree.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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