The impact of abdominal massage administered to intubated and enterally fed patients on the development of ventilator-associated pneumonia: a randomized controlled study.
Enteral tubes are frequently used in critically ill patients for feeding and gastric decompression. Many of the nursing guidelines to facilitate the care of patients with enteral tubes have not been based on current research, but on ritual and opinion. Using a computerised literature search and an evidence-based classification system as described by the Joanna Briggs Institute for Evidence Based Nursing and Midwifery (JBI), a comprehensive review was undertaken of enteral tube management. Several nursing practices related to enteral tube management are described. Evidence to support alternate methods of tube placement assessment other than abdominal X-ray was inconclusive. Enteral feeding should continue if gastric residual volumes are not considered excessive, as feeding is often withheld unnecessarily. Frequency of checking gastric residual volumes is largely opinion based and varies considerably, but prokinetics that aid gastric emptying should be used if absorption of feeds is problematic. Other recommendations include continuous rather than intermittent feeding, semi-recumbent positioning to reduce the risk of airway aspiration and diligent artificial airway cuff management. Contamination of feeds can be minimised by minimal, meticulous handling and the use of closed rather than open systems. Generally, there was little high quality evidence to support practice recommendations leaving significant scope for further research by nurses in the management of patients with enteral tubes.