To define the role of bowel rest as an independent variable from nutritional support a prospective, randomised controlled trial was undertaken in 51 patients with active Crohn's disease unresponsive to other medical management. Nutritional support for 21 days was randomised to total parenteral nutrition and nil by mouth (n = 17), defined formula diet administered through a nasogastric tube (n = 19), or partial parenteral nutrition and oral food (n = 15). Nutrient input in the first two groups provided 40 non-protein kcal/kg ideal body weight /d and 1g/ kg/d protein respectively, while the third group received 15 non-protein kcal/kg/d and 0.3 g/kg/d protein intravenously and ate unrestricted food. Clinical remissions occurred in 71% of patients on parenteral nutrition, in 58% on the defined formula diet and in 60% on partial parenteral nutrition; the probability for each group of being in remission at one year, after successful therapy was 42%, 55%, and 56% respectively. These differences were not significant. In patients with active Crohn's disease bowel rest was not a major factor in achieving a remission during nutritional support and did not influence outcome during one year's follow-up.
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