Although CI does not have a cure, it can often be managed with changes to a patient's diet and medication. However, some patients will still not be able to maintain a healthy weight or nutritional status, and may be frequently hospitalized for dehydration and complications arising from malnutrition. For such patients, enteral nutrition (receiving nutrition through a feeding tube) can provide the nutrients and calories they need each day.
In many cases of CI, oral maintenance of nutrition is not possible. Due to the extreme nausea, vomiting, and pain, patients often experience severe malnutrition, weight loss, and dehydration. Having CI doesn't mean a patient will need a feeding tube; it is only placed in the most severe cases that are not responsive to dietary and pharmacological interventions.
It is also important to remember that if a patient's condition improves enough that they can maintain their weight and nutritional status through oral feedings, the feeding tube can be removed.
If following the recommended diets doesn’t work, and the patient suffers from chronic malnutrition, feedings through an IV line may be the only option for maintenance of nutrition.
There are two types of feedings.
- Parenteral nutrition is nutrition fed through the vein, commonly referred to as TPN (Total Parenteral Nutrition).
- Enteral nutrition is nutrition fed through a feeding tube which has been implanted into the stomach and/or small bowel.