Feeding intolerance in critically ill patients with COVID-19

Link to article at PubMed

Clin Nutr. 2021 Mar 29:S0261-5614(21)00180-1. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2021.03.033. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND & AIMS: Early reports suggest significant difficulty with enteral feeding in critically ill COVID-19 patients. This study aimed to characterize the prevalence, clinical manifestations, and outcomes of feeding intolerance in critically ill patients with COVID-19.

METHODS: We examined 323 adult patients with COVID-19 admitted to the intensive care units (ICUs) of Massachusetts General Hospital between March 11 and June 28, 2020 who received enteral nutrition. Systematic chart review determined prevalence, clinical characteristics, and hospital outcomes (ICU complications, length of stay, and mortality) of feeding intolerance.

RESULTS: Feeding intolerance developed in 56% of the patients and most commonly manifested as large gastric residual volumes (83.9%), abdominal distension (67.2%), and vomiting (63.9%). Length of intubation (OR 1.05, 95% CI 1.03-1.08), ≥1 GI symptom on presentation (OR 0.76, 95% CI 0.59-0.97), and severe obesity (OR 0.29, 95% CI 0.13-0.66) were independently associated with development of feeding intolerance. Compared to feed-tolerant patients, patients with incident feeding intolerance were significantly more likely to suffer cardiac, renal, hepatic, and hematologic complications during their hospitalization. Feeding intolerance was similarly associated with poor outcomes including longer ICU stay (median [IQR] 21.5 [14-30] vs. 15 [9-22] days, P < 0.001), overall hospitalization time (median [IQR] 30.5 [19-42] vs. 24 [15-35], P < 0.001) and in-hospital mortality (33.9% vs. 16.1%, P < 0.001). Feeding intolerance was independently associated with an increased risk of death (HR 3.32; 95% CI 1.97-5.6).

CONCLUSIONS: Feeding intolerance is a frequently encountered complication in critically ill COVID-19 patients in a large tertiary care experience and is associated with poor outcomes.

PMID:33934924 | PMC:PMC8007186 | DOI:10.1016/j.clnu.2021.03.033

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