What Is Parenteral Nutrition?

Intravenously Infusing Nutrients, Bypassing the Gastrointestinal Tract

Nutrition is fundamental for health and resistance to disease. In the majority of patients, an adequate dietary intake can be ensured by providing a balanced diet. In case nutritional requirements cannot be met with regular and normal food, clinical nutrition support involving oral supplementation, enteral tube feeding and/or parenteral nutrition (PN) becomes indispensable.1

PN, the intravenous infusion of nutrients directly into the systemic circulation bypassing the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, becomes necessary when the GI tract is not able to absorb sufficient nutrients strictly via the enteral route.

PN may be indicated following an extensive examination of the patient to assess:

PN infusion is generally delivered via peripheral or central venous catheters. Location of insertion is determined by the duration of treatment, i.e. short-term, long-term, or permanent, with peripheral insertion for short-term and central venous insertion for short-term, long-term, or permanent use.2

Indications for PN include:1,3

Why is PN Important to the Patient?

The overall aim of PN is to ensure that total nutrient intake provides the sufficient nutrients and energy to meet the patient’s need. It provides the patient with the vital nutrients and fluids needed to:


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