Difference Between Enteral and Parenteral

Enteral vs Parenteral

Enteral and parenteral feeding methods are used mainly to deliver nutrients to patients who cannot digest food normally or who have non-functioning gastrointestinal tracts (GI Tracts). The nutrients are supplied in the form of liquid and can insert drugs as well as food. In some chronic cases, the patients need to be fed at night, in order to have a normal life during day time. However, these feeding operations are widely varied depending on the patient’s situation and needs.

Enteral Feeding

This method involves delivering liquid food through a catheter inserted directly into GI tract. Depending on the patient’s need, different feeding tubes can be used. For example, a nasal tube can be used to bypass the mouth and throat while a jejunostomy tube can be used when a person’s stomach is unfit for normal digestion. Enteral feeding is not recommended for patients with post-surgery paralysis of the gastrointestinal tract, chronic diarrhea or vomiting, and also for starving patients who need surgery.

Advantages of enteral feeding include easy intake, ability to monitor accurately, ability to provide nutrients when oral is not possible, less costly, readily available supplies, low bacterial translocation, preservation of immunologic function of gut etc. The main disadvantages are gastrointestinal, metabolic, and mechanical complication, low portability, labor- intensive assessment, administration, and monitoring etc.

Parenteral Feeding

Parenteral feeding is the method which supplies nutrients intravenously or directly into the blood stream. Normally the catheters are inserted either into patient’s jugular vein, the subclavian vein, below the clavicle, or one of the arm’s large blood vessel. Patients with post paralysis of GI tract or chronic diarrhea need total parenteral nutrition, which delivers nutrients through intravenous feeding. Parenteral feeding method is also recommended for babies with underdeveloped digestive systems, patients with birth defects in their GI tract, and with Crohn’s disease.

Providing of nutrients when less than two or three small intestine present, allowing nutrition support when GI intolerance prevents oral or enteral support are the two main advantages of parenteral feeding.

Enteral vs Parenteral

• Enteral feeding involves delivering liquid foods through a catheter inserted directly into the gastrointestinal tract, whereas parenteral feeding involves providing nutrients directly into the blood stream.

• In the low risk situations, enteral feeding is more preferred than parenteral feeding.

• Conditions that require enteral feeding are impaired ingestion, inability to intake adequate nutrients orally, impaired digestion, absorption and metabolism, severe wasting or depressed growth.

• Conditions that require parenteral feeding are gastrointestinal incompetency, hypermetabolic state with poor enteral tolerance or accessibility.

• Patients with typical disorders including neurological disorders, HIV/AIDS, facial trauma, oral trauma, congenital anomalies, cystic fibrosis, comatose states etc. need enteral feeding, while patients with typical disorders including short bowel syndrome, severe acute pancreatitis, small bowel ischemia, intestinal atresia, severe liver failure, bone marrow transplantation, acute respiratory failure with ventilator dependency etc. need parenteral feeding.

• Unlike the enteral feeding method, parenteral feeding directly delivers nutrients into the blood.

• Parenteral method is expensive than enteral method.