Overview

Parenteral nutrition, often called total parenteral nutrition, is the medical term for infusing a specialized form of food through a vein (intravenously). The goal of the treatment is to correct or prevent malnutrition.

Parenteral nutrition provides liquid nutrients, including carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals and electrolytes. Some people use parenteral nutrition to supplement feeding through a tube placed into the stomach or small bowel (enteral nutrition), and others use it by itself.

People whose digestive systems either can't absorb or can't tolerate adequate food eaten by mouth use parenteral nutrition. When used outside the hospital, intravenous feeding is called home parenteral nutrition. Using home parenteral nutrition may be necessary for weeks or months, or in some cases for life.

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