The key difference between TPN and tube feeding is that total parenteral nutrition or TPN refers to the supply of all daily nutrition directly into the bloodstream, while tube feeding refers to the supply of nutrition through a tube that goes directly to the stomach or small intestine.
When a person is at risk of malnutrition, or has trouble in getting daily nutritional requirements, there are two methods of supplying nutrients: enteral feeding and parenteral feeding. Parenteral feeding is a way of supplying nutrients directly into the bloodstream through a vein. Total parenteral feeding (TPN) is one of the two types of parenteral feeding in which all daily nutrients are supplied through a large vein. Enteral feeding or tube feeding is done when a person is not in a condition to eat a regular diet through his mouth, but his GI tract functions normally. In this method, the supply of nutrients takes place directly into the stomach or small intestine via a tube.
What is TPN?
Total parenteral nutrition is one of the two types of parenteral nutrition which is done intravenously. In TPN, complete nutrition is given to your body through a vein. Thus, the nutrients are directly pumped into the bloodstream. In TPN, the health care provider places a catheter in a larger vein. After checking the nutrient bag (TPN solution), it should be connected to the intravenous catheter. The process takes 10 to 12 hours to complete. TPN becomes a good option when a person does not have a functional GI tract or when he suffers from disorders requiring complete bowel rest. Therefore, TPN does not rely on gastrointestinal function.
Moreover, this method is easier than the tube feeding. However, it shows a greater risk of catheter infections. TPN is also associated with blood clot developments, liver diseases and bone diseases. Moreover, TPN is more expensive and causes more complications.
What is Tube Feeding?
Tube feeding or enteral nutrition is a method of supplying nutrients directly into the stomach via a tube. It is a simpler and cheaper method than TPN. Moreover, it shows fewer complications and infections than TPN. The nutrients go through the GI tract in the same way when we ingest foods.
In order to carry out tube feeding, the person must possess a functional GI tract. Therefore, unlike TPN, tube feeding relies on the gastrointestinal function.
What are the Similarities Between TPN and Tube Feeding?
- TPN and tube feeding are two methods of providing nutrients or daily calorie requirements to patients.
- Both are simple methods.
What is the Difference Between TPN and Tube Feeding?
TPN is the supply of all nutrients intravenously, while tube feeding is the supply of nutrients into the stomach via a tube. So, this is the key difference between TPN and tube feeding. Moreover, TPN does not rely on the GI tract functioning, while tube feeding depends on the functioning of the GI tract. Furthermore, TPN is more expensive and shows more complications, while tube feeding is cheaper and shows fewer complications. Thus, this is another major difference between TPN and tube feeding.
The below info-graphic summarizes the difference between TPN and tube feeding.
Summary – TPN vs Tube Feeding
TPN supplies complete nutrition directly into the blood via a vein. In contrast, tube feeding supplies nutrition directly into the stomach through a tube. So, this is the key difference between TPN and tube feeding. TPN does not rely on GI tract functioning while tube feeding depends on the normal functioning of the GI tract. Both TPN and tube feeding are simple methods. But, TPN is more expensive and has more complications.
1. “Total Parenteral Nutrition: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia.” MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Available here.
2. “Enteral and Parenteral Nutrition.” American College of Gastroenterology, Available here.
1. “Tpn 3bag” By Tristanb at the English Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Diagram showing the position of a percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) feeding tube CRUK 341” Von Cancer Research UK – Original email from CRUK (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia