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Inflammatory Bowel Disease Health Center

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Inflammatory Bowel Disease: Enteral or Total Parenteral Nutrition - Topic Overview

The following nutritional treatments may be used for inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease).

Enteral nutrition

Enteral nutrition is a fluid given through a tube that is inserted into the nose, down the throat, and into the stomach. This tube is called a nasogastric, or NG, tube. The fluid contains essential nutrients and helps supplement or replace a regular diet. The intestines absorb nutrients from the fluid more easily than from regular food. Feedings may be given during the day or at night during sleep.

Studies of people who have Crohn's disease show that enteral nutrition may help keep them free of symptoms (in remission).1

Total parenteral nutrition (TPN)

Total parenteral nutrition (TPN) is liquid nutrition given through a needle that is inserted into a large vein in or near the shoulder, neck, or arm. This method bypasses the digestive tract completely and places nutrients directly into the bloodstream. TPN allows the bowel to rest so that medicines can work. TPN may be helpful in stopping the symptoms of Crohn's disease in certain people, but the treatment is still unproved. TPN has not been shown to have any benefit in treating ulcerative colitis. But parenteral nutrition may offer nutritional benefits to patients even if it doesn't help with the treatment of disease.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 14, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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