3. About PN

What is PN?

What is PN? 

Parenteral nutrition (PN) is a way to provide nourishment to patients who are unable to absorb nutrients through their digestive system. Protein, carbohydrates, fat, electrolytes, vitamins and other trace elements are delivered intravenously so the nutrients go directly into the bloodstream, bypassing the gut.


Who uses PN?

Who uses PN? 

Patients who require PN can be either critically ill or chronically ill – these include adults as well as children, particularly newborns. 

In critically ill patients, conditions or diseases affecting the bowel’s ability to process food taken by mouth may require PN. People in intensive care may also be candidates for PN if their digestive system is not working optimally as a result of decreased intestinal function. 

In chronically ill patients, conditions such as cancer, Crohn’s disease, short bowel syndrome, ischemic bowel disease, or abnormal bowel function may interrupt normal bowel function for a long time or forever, requiring PN.1 


Where is PN Provided?

PN can be provided in the hospital, in long-term care facilities, or at home after discharge from the hospital.

Depending on the patient’s needs, different PN products are indicated. Because PN products are highly concentrated, they are typically delivered through central veins in the neck or chest. Delivery through peripheral veins in the forearm is used for less concentrated PN and shorter durations of PN.

Most lipid-based PN products provide essential fatty acids, one of the major nutritional components. Lipid sources used in PN include soybean oil, medium chain triglycerides, olive oil, and fish oil.1


Reference: 1. ASPEN: What is parenteral nutrition. ASPEN website. Accessed March 13, 2020.

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