Results of recent controlled studies show that because of difficulties in administering adequate quantities of enteral diet, positive nitrogen balance is not consistently achieved during enteral feeding. In order to determine whether nitrogen balance can be improved in routine clinical practice by prescribing enteral diets containing higher concentrations of nutrients, 118 patients with normal gastrointestinal function needing enteral nutrition were randomised to receive daily 21 of one of three polymeric diets: Standard diet (1.0 kcal/ml; 6.3 gN/l), Energy Dense diet (1.5 kcal/ml; 7.8 gN/l), and Energy-Nitrogen Dense diet (1.5 kcal/ml; 9.4 gN/l. The three diets, administered by continuous nasogastric infusion, were equally well tolerated. Results were analysed only for patients fed five or more days and who received at least 60% of prescribed enteral diet (n = 42). Positive nitrogen balance was achieved only in the patients receiving the Energy-Nitrogen Dense diet (n = 16; + 1.6 (SE) 0.6 gN/d, compared with the Standard diet (n = 12; -3.8 (1.1) gN/d; p less than 0.001), and the Energy Dense diet (m = 14; -1.9 (0.8) gN/d; p less than 0.005). As the findings of this prospective controlled trial show that positive nitrogen balance was not consistently achieved by administering 21 enteral diet containing up to 15.6 gN, consideration could, therefore, be given to routinely using enteral diets containing up to 9.4 gN/l.
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