CORONADO, CALIF. – Percutaneous gastrostomy with jejunal extension (PEG-J) is an appealing and effective method for delivery of enteral nutrition in necrotizing pancreatitis patients, without the mechanical issues and discomfort associated with nasojejunal (NJ) tube, results from a single-center retrospective study showed.
“The advantages of PEG-J route for enteral nutrition in necrotizing pancreatitis patients must be weighed carefully against the potentially severe complication profile,” study author Alexandra M. Roch, MD, said at the annual meeting of the Western Surgical Association.
Historically, the preferred way to manage patients with necrotizing pancreatitis was via parenteral nutrition with a lack of pancreatic stimulation, said Dr. Roch, of the department of surgery at Indiana University, Indianapolis. However, parenteral nutrition is associated with increased permeability, a lack of peristaltic stimulation, changes in intestinal flora, and an increased risk of infection.
“More recently, enteral nutrition has been used, despite a potential for pancreatic stimulation,” she said. “From 16 randomized, controlled trials with 847 patients, it was associated with decreased mortality, decreased infectious complications, decreased length of hospital stay, and a trend toward decreased rate of organ failure. Based on those findings, enteral nutrition has become the standard of care in acute pancreatitis. The optimal enteral nutrition route, however, is still debated. The traditional route is the nasojejunal [NJ] tube. Its placement is noninvasive, but it is associated with discomfort for the patient, dislodgement in 16%-63% of cases, and potentially sinusitis. Conversely, percutaneous gastrostomy with jejunal extension [PEG-J] is beneficial for patient comfort but has the drawbacks of being an invasive procedure with the risk of cellulitis and more severe complications.”
The aim of the current study was to compare the safety and efficacy of NJ tube and PEG-J enteral nutrition delivery before surgical debridement in patients with necrotizing pancreatitis. Dr. Roch and her associates hypothesized that NJ tube and PEG-J would have a similar complication profile. They retrospectively reviewed the medical records of all patients who underwent surgical debridement for necrotizing pancreatitis at Indiana University Medical Center between 2005 and 2015. Patients with exclusive total parenteral nutrition were excluded from the study, as were those who had incomplete data.
Dr. Roch reported results from 242 patients with a mean age of 54 years. More than half (64%) were men and the main etiology was biliary (47%), followed by alcohol (16%). The median duration of preoperative enteral nutrition was 29 days. Of the 242 patients, 187 had an NJ tube only, 25 had PEG-J only, and 30 patients had an NJ tube followed by PEG-J. More than half of PEG-Js were placed under fluoroscopic guidance, while the remaining 41% were placed endoscopically.
In terms of safety, patients in the NJ tube group had a significantly higher rate of all complications, compared with those in the PEG-J group (52% vs. 27%, respectively; P = .0015). Conversely, there was a significantly higher rate of serious complications among patients in the PEG-J group, compared with the NJ group (11% vs. 0%; P less than .0001). The researchers also found that compared with patients in the PEG-J group, those in the NJ group were more prone to mechanical complications such as difficulty to place (5% vs. 0%, respectively), replacement (30% vs. 5.5%), and repositioning (30% vs. 2%), while PEG-J patients were more prone to infectious complications such as skin infections/cellulitis (4% vs. 0%) and perforation/leakage/peritonitis (11% vs. 0%). When they limited the analysis to grade III or IV complications, the mechanism was always the same: early dislodgement from the GI tract. “The presentation ranged from asymptomatic patients to severe peritonitis,” Dr. Roch said. “Two patients out of the six with severe complications required emergent laparotomy.”
In terms of efficacy, the NJ and PEG-J groups were equivalent in achieving enteral nutrition (67% vs. 68%, respectively). There were also no differences between the two groups in nutritional status when assessed by an increase of serum albumin (38% vs. 36%; P = .87), normalization of serum albumin (9% vs. 16%; P = .14), or in the prevalence of infected necrosis (53% vs. 49%; P = .64).
Dr. Roch acknowledged certain limitations of the study, including its single-center, retrospective design. “Furthermore, we are a tertiary care center, and most patients are referred to us late in the course of their disease,” she said. “Finally, no PEG-Js were placed outside of our institution, raising the question of a selection bias. She reported having no financial disclosures.