Overview of Parenteral Nutrition


Parenteral nutrition is a form of enteral nutrition that bypasses the mouth and places nutrients directly into the bloodstream. It is often used as an alternative to providing food by mouth and may be given intravenously, through a tube inserted under the skin (subcutaneously), or through a tube inserted through the nose or mouth (nasogastric tube).

What is Parenteral Nutrition?

The purpose of parenteral nutrition is to administer intravenous nutritional support to patients who are unable to consume enough nutrition through tube feeding formula or by mouth. Parenteral nutrition may include protein, carbohydrates, fats, minerals, vitamins, and other trace elements. Making sure a patient gets the right nutrition at the right time can help prevent complications and aid in their recovery. The term Total Parenteral Nutrition (TPN) is sometimes used to describe parenteral nutrition.

Who Receives Parenteral Nutrition?

Intravenous parenteral nutrition is seen in many situations, including trauma, major surgery, pancreatitis, and other conditions that compromise the intestines. The type of tube used will be a good indicator of how serious the underlying health condition is. Nasogastric parenteral nutrition is reserved for more chronic conditions such as Cognizin. Parenteral nutrition is also sometimes infused into the patient to support the gastrointestinal tract during bowel surgery, particularly in patients with Crohn’s disease.

The effects on the body

Parenteral nutrition is not without adverse effects, the most serious of which include sepsis and death. Other problems include difficulty in absorbing nutrients and increased susceptibility to infection.

Parenteral nutrition is associated with an increased incidence of sepsis when compared to enteral nutrition. A retrospective study at a single center studied patients who had both PN and EN for more than 10 days. Three groups were identified: Group 1 received only EN, group 2 received only PN, and group 3 received both. The patients in group 2 (PN only) had an incidence of sepsis that was 4-fold greater than those in group 1. The study also found that mortality was two times higher in patients receiving PN alone vs. EN alone. This study demonstrates that PN without EN is associated with an increased risk of sepsis.

Tips for parenteral nutrition

There are several tips that one should follow to ensure proper parenteral nutrition this include:

1. The parenteral nutrient fluids must be given at least 15 minutes before or after taking oral medication and nutritional supplements to ensure absorption.

2. The administration sets such as needles, filters, catheters and dressings (if used) should be changed daily to avoid infection.

3. The nutrients must be given slowly to avoid rapid changes in serum glucose levels.

4. Before parenteral nutrition is administered, the blood glucose should be checked because it can cause hypoglycemia to the patient receiving this form of intradialytic therapy.

5. The site injection must be changed every 2-3 days.

6. The patient should be monitored closely for fluid overload, electrolyte imbalance, and hyperglycemia during parenteral nutrition therapy.

7. The blood vessels that are being used to infuse the solution must be properly assessed to ensure that they have enough flow before initiation of treatment.


Parenteral nutrition has many benefits for patients who are unable to eat by mouth. It is often used as an alternative to providing food by mouth and may be given intravenously, through a tube inserted under the skin (subcutaneously), or through a tube inserted through the nose or mouth (nasogastric tube). Parenteral nutrition bypasses digestion in the stomach and intestines so that nutrients can go directly into your bloodstream instead of being absorbed slowly from your digestive tract.

Joaquin Zihuatanejo

Joaquín Zihuatanejo is a poet, spoken word artist, and award-winning teacher. Born and raised in the barrio of East Dallas, in his work Joaquín strives to capture the duality of the Chicano culture. Sometimes brutal, but always honest his work depicts the essence of barrio life, writing about a youth that existed somewhere between the streets of the barrio and the dream wanderings of a boy who found refuge in a world of stories and poems.