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Mucous fistula refeeding decreases parenteral nutrition exposure in postsurgical premature neonates


Premature neonates can develop intraabdominal conditions requiring emergent bowel resection and enterostomy. Parenteral nutrition (PN) is often required, but results in cholestasis. Mucous fistula refeeding allows for functional restoration of continuity. We sought to determine the effect of refeeding on nutrition intake, PN dependence, and PN associated hepatotoxicity while evaluating the safety of this practice.


A retrospective review of neonates who underwent bowel resection and small bowel enterostomy with or without mucous fistula over 2 years was undertaken. Patients who underwent mucous fistula refeeding (RF) were compared to those who did not (OST). Primary outcomes included days from surgery to discontinuation of PN and goal enteral feeds, and total days on PN. Secondary outcomes were related to PN hepatotoxicity.


Thirteen RF and eleven OST were identified. There were no significant differences among markers of critical illness (p > 0.20). In the interoperative period, RF patients reached goal enteral feeds earlier than OST patients (median 28 versus 43 days; p = 0.03) and were able to have PN discontinued earlier (median 25 versus 41 days; p = 0.04). Following anastomosis, the magnitude of effect was more pronounced, with RF patients reaching goal enteral feeds earlier than OST patients (median 7.5 versus 20 days; p ≤ 0.001) and having PN discontinued sooner (30.5 versus 48 days; p = 0.001).


RF neonates reached goal feeds and were able to be weaned from PN sooner than OST patients. A prospective multicenter trial of refeeding is needed to define the benefits and potential side effects of refeeding in a larger patient population in varied care environments.

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