Parenteral nutrition, also called total parenteral nutrition (TPN), is the medical term for feeding through a vein (intravenous). TPN can be used at home by people whose digestive system can't absorb nutrition. Intravenous feeding may be temporary or lifelong. With time and experience, people using TPN can have improved quality of life.

Total parenteral nutrition (TPN) provides liquid nutrients through a needle injected into a vein. It is used if your small bowel can't absorb nutrients naturally. TPN may supplement home enteral nutrition or may be used exclusively.

Intravenous feeding is used most commonly for people with cancer, Crohn's disease, short bowel syndrome and conditions resulting from reduced blood flow to the bowel (ischemic bowel disease).

At Mayo Clinic, doctors with special training in nutrition work with you to determine the type of TPN that's best for you. Specially trained nurses and dietitians show you and your caregivers how to prepare, administer and monitor TPN at home. Your feeding cycle is usually adjusted so that TPN occurs at night, freeing you from the infusion pump during the day. The goal is for you to become self-confident and independent in using TPN.

You will have follow-up exams to assess your intravenous nutrition plan. Mayo dietitians and nurses are also available to help with questions or concerns about TPN.

Mayo research suggests that under the careful supervision of care providers, some people with short bowel syndrome may be weaned off TPN. Some people with Crohn's disease, radiation enteritis and cancer may be partially weaned off TPN.

Catheter types

Mayo offers two options for delivering TPN:

  • Tunneled catheter has a segment of tube outside the skin
  • Implanted catheter is inserted completely beneath the skin

At Mayo, both types of catheter are usually inserted into a large vein leading to the heart. The procedure is done under heavy sedation or anesthesia in the operating room or radiology suite.

TPN through this large vein can deliver nutrients quickly and lower the risk of catheter infection.

Complications

Catheter infection is the most common complication of TPN. Other complications include liver and bone disease, and blood clots. Your Mayo treatment team will monitor your TPN formula and procedures to help avoid or treat these complications.

  • Experience. Mayo Clinic doctors have taught hundreds of people to administer TPN at home, including people referred by other centers because they are experiencing problems with intravenous feeding.
  • Expertise. Mayo Clinic doctors have experience in several parenteral feeding methods. Your Mayo doctor will work with you and your caregivers to find the best option.
  • Compassionate care team. Follow-up exams with your doctor and ongoing support from nurses and dietitians can help you achieve successful TPN at home.

Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., ranks #1 for digestive disorders in the U.S. News & World Report Best Hospitals rankings. Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Ariz., is ranked among the Best Hospitals and Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla., is ranked high performing for digestive disorders by U.S. News & World Report.

At Mayo Clinic, we assemble a team of specialists who take the time to listen and thoroughly understand your health issues and concerns. We tailor the care you receive to your personal health care needs. You can trust our specialists to collaborate and offer you the best possible outcomes, safety and service.

Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit medical institution that reinvests all earnings into improving medical practice, research and education. We're constantly involved in innovation and medical research, finding solutions to improve your care and quality of life. Your doctor or someone on your medical team is likely involved in research related to your condition.

Our patients tell us that the quality of their interactions, our attention to detail and the efficiency of their visits mean health care — and trusted answers — like they've never experienced.

Why Choose Mayo Clinic

What Sets Mayo Clinic Apart

Evaluation for total parenteral nutrition (TPN) is available only by referral from a Mayo Clinic doctor.

Mayo Clinic works with hundreds of insurance companies and is an in-network provider for millions of people. In most cases, Mayo Clinic doesn't require a physician referral. Some insurers require referrals or may have additional requirements for certain medical care. All appointments are prioritized on the basis of medical need.

Specialists in gastroenterology care for adults who need TPN.

For appointments or more information, call the Central Appointment Office at 800-446-2279 (toll-free) 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mountain Standard Time, Monday through Friday or complete an online appointment request form.

Specialists in gastroenterology care for adults who need TPN.

For appointments or more information, call the Central Appointment Office at 904-953-0853 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern time, Monday through Friday or complete an online appointment request form.

Specialists in gastroenterology care for adults and children who need TPN.

For appointments or more information, call the Central Appointment Office at 507-538-3270 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Central time, Monday through Friday or complete an online appointment request form.

See information on patient services at the three Mayo Clinic locations, including transportation options and lodging.

Mayo Clinic researchers are studying methods of total parenteral nutrition that can reduce the risk of complications and improve the quality of life for people who need intravenous feeding. Specific areas of interest include the effects of TPN on liver disease and bone mineral density, and the ethics of long-term intravenous feeding.

Publications

See a list of publications by Mayo Clinic doctors on enteral nutrition on PubMed, a service of the National Library of Medicine.

Oct. 13, 2011