Effect of total parenteral nutrition upon intracranial pressure in severe head injury

B. Young, L. Ott, D. Haack, D. Twyman, D. Combs, J. B. Oexmann, P. Tibbs, R. Dempsey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Animal investigations suggest that administration of hyperosmolar total parenteral nutrition (TPN) solutions may potentiate cerebral edema following head injury. Intravenous nutrition (TPN) is often required after head injury due to intolerance to enteral feeding (EN). This study evaluates the effect of TPN on intracranial pressure (ICP) measurements in severely brain-injured patients. Ninety-six severely brain-injured patients were randomly assigned to receive TPN or EN and were studied from hospital admission until 18 days postinjury. The TPN was started within 48 hours postinjury and the EN was started when tolerated. Peak daily ICP was not significantly different on admission and over time (overall mean ± standard error of the mean 32.01 ± 1.62 for TPN versus 32.5 ± 1.25 for EN). Intracranial pressure was greater than 20 mm Hg in 75% of TPN patients and 73% of EN patients. Conventional therapy failed to control elevated ICP in 36% of TPN patients and 38% of EN patients. Of these patients, subsequent barbiturate therapy failed to control ICP in 56% of TPN patients and 64% of EN patients. Serum osmolality was not significantly different between groups at admission or over the course of the study. The TPN group tended to have higher mean serum glucose levels for the first 13 days postinjury, while the EN group had a higher mean serum glucose content thereafter, but these differences were not statistically significant. This study shows that TPN can be given safely to the severely brain-injured patient without causing serum hyperosmolality or affecting ICP levels or ICP therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)76-80
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Neurosurgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1987

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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