Enteral Nutrition Therapy
Enteral nutrition generally refers to any method of feeding that uses the gastrointestinal (GI) tract to deliver part or all of a person's caloric requirements. It can include a normal oral diet, the use of liquid supplements or delivery of part or all of the daily requirements by use of a tube (tube feeding). The site of entry of the tube and tube types will be discussed under "enteral access". Parenteral nutrition refers to the delivery of calories and nutrients into a vein.
The nutrition solution can be as simple as carbohydrate calories delivered as simple sugar in an intravenous solution or all of the required nutrients could be delivered including carbohydrate, protein, fat, electrolytes (for example sodium and potassium), vitamins and trace elements (for example copper and zinc).
There are many reasons for enteral and parenteral nutrition including GI disorders such as bowel obstruction, short bowel syndrome, Crohn's disease, and ulcerative colitis; as well as certain cancers or in comatose patients. While enteral nutrition is always preferred when technically possible, some people may have a variety of medical issues that make the safe use of the GI tract difficult. Alternatively, their calorie and nutrient needs may not be met by the current level of functioning of their GI tract.
That is when parenteral nutrition may be needed to help an individual remain hydrated and possibly to provide calories and other nutrients to allow for growth and development or maintenance of physical well-being and function.