Parenteral nutrition aims to conserve or increase lean body mass by reducing or reversing nitrogen loss whenever adequate enteral nutrition is not possible.1 The absolute indication is failure of alimentation due to gastro-intestinal disease or fistula, but some patients with severe injuries, burns or abdominal sepsis may need parenteral feeding. No benefit has yet been shown from the pre-operative parenteral feeding of cachectic patients.2 3 This article discusses the choice of solutions for parenteral nutrition in adults; their hazards have recently been reviewed.4
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