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Inflammatory Bowel Disease: Enteral or Total Parenteral Nutrition

Topic Overview

The following nutritional treatments may be used for inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease).

Enteral nutrition

Enteral nutrition is a fluid given through a tube that is inserted into the nose, down the throat, and into the stomach. This tube is called a nasogastric, or NG, tube. The fluid contains essential nutrients and helps supplement or replace a regular diet. The intestines absorb nutrients from the fluid more easily than from regular food. Feedings may be given during the day or at night during sleep.

Studies of people who have Crohn's disease show that enteral nutrition may help keep them free of symptoms (in remission).1

Total parenteral nutrition (TPN)

Total parenteral nutrition (TPN) is liquid nutrition given through a needle that is inserted into a large vein in or near the shoulder, neck, or arm. This method bypasses the digestive tract completely and places nutrients directly into the bloodstream. TPN allows the bowel to rest so that medicines can work. TPN may be helpful in stopping the symptoms of Crohn's disease in certain people, but the treatment is still unproved. TPN has not been shown to have any benefit in treating ulcerative colitis. But parenteral nutrition may offer nutritional benefits to patients even if it doesn't help with the treatment of disease.

Related Information

References

Citations

  1. Akobeng AK, Thomas AG (2007). Enteral nutrition for maintenance of remission in Crohn's disease. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (3).

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Arvydas D. Vanagunas, MD - Gastroenterology
Last Revised October 8, 2012

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