Parenteral Nutrition: A Solution Administered Through Intravenous Injection, Mostly

When one uses the term "parenteral nutrition", one is referring to the nutrients that are delivered to the patient by means other than through the gastrointestinal tract. Parenteral nutrition is used in patients in critical states that may have symptoms such as intestinal obstruction, inadequate digestive or absorptive capacities, uncontrollable vomiting, inability to tolerate food for many reasons such as head trauma, burns to mouth/face/esophagus, and the need for total gastrointestinal tract rest that may be due to digestive disease.

Use of Sterile and Aseptic Techniques

Parenteral nutrition may be given to the patient via intravenous, intramuscular, subcutaneous, intraosseous or intraperitoneal routes. The most preferred method for giving parenteral nutrition is however, through the jugular intravenous catheter and though there is a lot of risk of contracting infections it should be given using aseptic or sterile techniques that should be adhered to at all times. Such support is usually given for two weeks at most by which time the patient should hopefully have recovered sufficiently from his or her symptoms to stop further parenteral nutrition.

When the patient is given parenteral nutrition via the catheter, a solution is fed that contains a carefully balanced solution of dextrose, lipids, amino acids, electrolytes, as well as B-vitamins and this formulation should be sufficient for the patient's daily needs for calories, electrolytes, fluids and proteins.

Parenteral nutrition may only be administered by the hospital because of the need to have sterile equipment and techniques while handling the catheter and solution. There is also need for round the clock supervision of the patient whose condition is often critical and would need 24 hour intensive care support.

Parenteral nutrition is used on patients that cannot not get their nutrition via normal eating and may include a combination of sugar coupled with carbohydrates, proteins, and trace elements and the solution may contain all or some of these elements. To test for the efficacy of the parenteral nutrition, the health care provider may need to measure for side effects and effectiveness through laboratory tests as well as by physical examinations.

The patient should inform his or her doctor before taking parenteral nutrition about any allergies that he or she has as well as inform the doctor about which prescription as well as non-prescription drugs are being used by the patient. Also, the patient should inform the doctor if he or she has diabetes, heart, liver, kidney, lung or Addison's disease. These are some of the precautions that need to be taken prior to getting parenteral nutrition administered to the patient.