What is TPN?
TPN stands for, Total Parenteral Nutrition. This means that either all or part of a patients nutrition and fluid requirements are administered through the central venous system (large veins near the heart). This allows patients to maintain adequate nutrition and hydration, when the bowel is either damaged or dysfunctional. It is also used in times where bowel rest is indicated such as, following major bowel surgery.
TPN is most commonly used in intensive care departments and hospital settings. However, when TPN is considered the ONLY long term viable option for adequate nutrition, it can be administered at home with adequate training and support. It is sometimes referred to as Home Parenteral Nutrition or HPN.
Not every hospital has the facilities to train patients how to administer HPN, so a referral to one of the regional nutritional centres will be required. Your consultant will arrange this for you.
The initial stage of commencing HPN is a lengthy process, usually involving around 4/5 weeks in hospital depending on your response to treatment and training. Not only do you need to learn to be SAFE, your team will also need to make sure your prescription is as stable as possible.
They will monitor your blood values closely and tailor the solution to suit your own individual requirements. However, feeding nutrients into the system this way is not natural to your body and can have serious implications (I will address the pro's and cons in my blog). As a result of this you will need to be monitored closely for the duration of your treatment. You will be taught how to monitor for excess glucose and check your temperature on a daily basis. They will also explain how to monitor for signs of infection and what to do if a more serious complication arrises.