Everything You Need to Know About Total Parenteral Nutrition (TPN)

Many people may ask, "What is TPN?" TPN, or total parenteral nutrition, is a medical term that is used for infusing a particular type of food through a vein. The goal of TPN is to treat or prevent malnutrition. TPN provides the patient with nutrients through an IV, including proteins, fats, carbs, minerals, vitamins, and electrolytes. Some people even use TPN to supplement a feeding tube that is placed into a small bowel or the stomach. If your digestive system cannot tolerate or absorb food when eaten by mouth, you are normally advised to undergo total parenteral nutrition.

Reasons To Have TPN

It is important that you get total parenteral nutrition information prior to having the procedure done if you have been advised to have it. There may be several reasons why your doctor recommended this procedure, including:

  • Crohn’s disease- This is considered an inflammatory bowel disease that consists of bowel narrowing, pain, and other symptoms that affect the food you eat, its digestion, and the way your body absorbs it.
  • Cancer- Digestive tract cancer can result in an obstruction of the bowels. As a result, it can prevent you from eating adequate food. Cancer treatments such as chemo may cause your body to absorb the nutrients properly.
  • Ischemic bowel disease- This may result in many difficulties resulting from a reduction of blood flow to the bowel.
  • Short bowel syndrome- This is a condition that may or may not be present at birth. It may also occur following surgery involving the removal of a part of the small intestine. As a result, you no longer have enough bowel to absorb enough of the nutrients you eat.
  • Abnormal bowel function- This causes the food to have difficulties passing through your intestines. As a result, you may experience many symptoms that prevent you from eating food. This condition may occur as a result of surgical adhesions or abnormalities in bowel motility.

The Procedure

During the procedure, a catheter will be inserted into a large vein leading to the heart following anesthesia. Parenteral nutrition via this large vein can deliver adequate nutrients quickly and lowers the risk of infection from the catheter.

Following the procedure, your responses to parenteral nutrition will be monitored. Your fluid balance will also be monitored in addition to the catheter site and how well you switch from tube feeding to normal oral feeding.

You will also undergo numerous follow-up exams to assess your treatment plan. Depending on the reason for your treatment, your care team may help you decrease the amount of nutrients you need gradually.

Your health care provider will show you how to prepare, administer, and monitor TPN at home. Your feeding cycle will typically be adjusted so that you will receive nutrients during the night instead of during the day.