• acute brain infarction;
  • enteral tube feeding;
  • fluid and electrolyte balance;
  • neurology;
  • nurses;
  • nursing

Aims and objectives.  This study was performed to examine whether fluid and electrolyte levels are significantly altered after enteral tube feeding in acute brain infarction patients.

Background.  Results on the water and electrolyte complications associated with enteral tube feeding are inconsistent and this is partly because of uncontrolled disease-related variables.

Design.  Non-experimental design (retrospective study).

Methods.  This study was conducted by retrospectively reviewing the medical records of 85 tube-fed patients.

Results.  Mean values of major serum electrolytes (sodium, potassium and chloride) were not significantly altered by tube feeding. However, differences between fluid input and output were significantly increased after tube feeding. The incidence of dehydration reduced overall, while over-hydration increased.

Conclusion.  The enteral tube feeding of iso-osmolar formulae appeared to be tolerated by most subjects in the present study in terms of electrolyte balance. However, fluid imbalance and over-hydration incidences were significantly increased after tube feeding.

Relevance to clinical practice.  Due to significant alterations in fluid balance after tube feeding, close attention to the recording of fluid balance, such as intake/output measurements, body weights and simple bedside assessments is needed to detect fluid imbalances and other serious complications at an early stage in enteral tube-feeding patients.