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J Clin Neurosci. 2013 Feb;20(2):220-3. doi: 10.1016/j.jocn.2012.01.054. Epub 2012 Dec 8.

Efficacy and ethics of artificial nutrition in patients with neurologic impairments in home care.

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Department of Neurology, JA Toride Medical Center, 2-1-1 Hongoh, Toride City, Ibaraki 302-0022, Japan.


Outcomes, particularly survival, for home-care patients with neurologic impairments who receive artificial nutrition, such as home parenteral nutrition (HPN) or percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) feeding, remain unclear. The efficacy of tube feeding for life prolongation in elderly patients remains controversial. The aim of this study was to assess the survival of elderly patients with neurologic impairments after the start of HPN or PEG. We retrospectively evaluated 80 patients with neurologic impairments who had received home care before they died. They were divided into three groups according to feeding method: oral-intake group (n = 23), HPN group (n = 21) and PEG group (n = 36). The factors considered were: age; survival period after commencement of home care; swallowing function; serum albumin concentration; level of activities of daily living (ADL); and behavioral, cognitive and communication functions. Survival periods of the patients in the PEG (736 ± 765 days) and HPN (725 ± 616 days) groups were twice that of the self-feeding oral-intake group (399 ± 257 days) despite lower serum albumin concentration (for PEG patients), reduced swallowing function and cognitive function, and poorer levels of ADL at the start of home care. Almost all patients were incapable of deciding whether they should receive artificial nutrition due to dementia or poor comprehension. Physicians should provide clinical evidence to families before commencing PEG feeding or HPN and support their decisions to maintain the dignity of the patient.

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