Among the college questions, there is an entire range which all vaguely follow the pattern of "how would you feed this patient?" For example, Question 9 from the second paper of 2001 has specifically asked for strategies to manage the inadequate delivery of nutritional support in a trauma patient (who for some unspecified reason is only receiving 25% of their goal calories). In the process of constructing this summary, my main sources were the Canadian Clinical Practice Guidelines, ESPEN Guidelines (2009) and the ASPEN Guidelines (2015). These are large documents, and written in an almost intentionally inaccessible manner. The time-poor candidate may be better served by the more recent summary review articles, such as the 2015 paper by Ridley Gantner and Pellegrino.
In short, the guidelines for ICU nutrition can be summarised as strongly favouring enteral nutrition, with an emphasis on earlier delivery of more calories. Protein seems to be the most important macronutrient (1.2-2.0g/kg/day). Strategies to achieve nutritional goals include protocolised feeding, minimisation of interruptions to feeding, use of prokinetics and upright posture, returning gastric residuals under 250ml, use of post-pyloric feeding, and the supplementation of inadequate or poorly tolerated enteric nutrition with some TPN.
The most important literature on this topic has been summarised by Chris Nickson from LITFL in this excellent CCC entry. Briefly, exam candidates need to be familiar with the following landmark papers.
Links to chapters relevant to each question are offered.
- Set up nutrional goals
- Use indirect calorimetry if available; or estimate using 25kcal/kg/day
- No single predictive equation has much of an advantage over any others
- EN is preferred to start with (safety, price, etc) unless contraindicated
- No mortality benefit, whether you use EN or PN
- No major advantage to using nasojejunal feeding
- Start within 48 hours
- Start at 30ml/hr and escalate (no strong evidence for this incremental approach)
- Minimal "gut-protective dose" is not well established
- 10ml/hr is safe in well-nourished patients
- To be sure, 50-65% of goal rate is probably required
- No strong evidence that meeting 100% energy goals improves mortality
- Weak evidence that this may be actually harmful in well-nourished patients
- More likely, 100% goal rate is more appropriate in the recovery stages of critical illness
- Earlier in the acute illness 33-66% of goal rate may be appropriate for the premorbidly well-nourished patient
- Minimise interuptions to enteral nutrition, and use higher make-up rates
- Return higher gastric aspirates than you'd normally be comfortable with
- Sit the patient up to 45º
- Start some pro-kinetic agents (metoclopramide and erythromycin)
- Advance the NGT into the jejunum (may not help)
- If goals remain unmet after ~48 hours, add PN as a supplement
- A well-nourished patient can wait 7 days without EN or TPN
- A malnourished patient can't wait (immedaitely begin)
- Start at 80% rate
- Start pre-operatively for the malnourished surgical candidates
- Add PN to inadequate EN to make up the lost nutrition