Enteral tube feeding for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis/motor neuron disease

Susan E. Langmore, E. J. Kasarskis, M. L. Manca, R. K. Olney

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

94 Scopus citations


Background: Enteral feeding (tube feeding) is offered to many people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis/motor neuron disease experiencing difficulty swallowing (dysphagia) and maintaining adequate nutritional intake leading to weight loss. Objectives: The aim of this review is to examine the efficacy of percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy placement or other tube feeding placement on: (1) survival; (2) nutritional status; (3) quality of life. Another aim is to examine the minor and major complications of percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy. Search strategy: We searched the Cochrane Neuromuscular Disease Group Trials Register (June 2005), MEDLINE (from January 1966 to June 2005), and EMBASE (from January 1980 to June 2005) for randomized controlled trials. In addition we searched MEDLINE (January 1966 to June 2005) and EMBASE (January 1980 to June 2005) to identify non-randomized studies that might be worthy of review and discussion. We checked references in published articles, proceedings of scientific meetings, and enlisted personal communications to identify any additional references. Selection criteria: All randomized and quasi-randomized controlled trials were to have been selected. Since no such trials were discovered, all prospective and retrospective controlled studies were reviewed in the 'Background' or 'Discussion' sections of the review. Data collection and analysis: We independently assessed study methodological design and extracted data. We considered the following outcomes: (1) survival rate in months (of primary interest), (2) nutritional status measured by weight change, change in body mass index, or other quantitative index of nutritional status, and (3) self-perceived quality of life We were also interested in reports of safety of the procedure as indicated by (4) minor and major complications of percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy or other feeding tube placement. Main results: We found no randomized controlled trials comparing the efficacy of enteral tube feeding with those people who continued to eat orally, without enteral feeding. We summarized the results of retrospective and prospective case controlled studies in the 'Discussion' section of this review. Authors' conclusions: There are no randomized controlled trials to indicate whether enteral tube feeding is beneficial compared to continuation of oral feeding for survival. The 'best' evidence to date, based on controlled prospective cohort studies, suggests an advantage for survival in all people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis/motor neuron disease, but these conclusions are tentative. Evidence for improved nutrition is also incomplete but tentatively favorable. Quality of life has only been addressed by a few researchers and needs more serious attention.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberCD004030
JournalCochrane Database of Systematic Reviews
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (medical)


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