Background: We commonly use needle catheter jejunostomy (NCJ) for early enteral feeding in selected patients. Review of our approach was prompted by the suggestion that enteral feeding represents a "stress test" for the bowel and may be associated with a high complication rate. Materials and methods: We reviewed patients with NCJ inserted over the past 16 years by prospective database, chart review, and conference minutes, with emphasis on complications. Results: During the conduct of 28,121 laparotomies, 2,022 NCJs inserted in 1,938 patients (7.2%) resulted in 34 NCJ-related complications in 29 patients (1.5%) The most common complication was premature loss of the catheter from occlusion or dislodgment (n = 15; 0.74%), and the most serious was bowel necrosis (n = 3; 0.15%). Conclusions: Needle catheter jejunostomy may be inserted and used with a low complication rate. Most complications were preventable through greater attention to detail and better monitoring of physical examination of patients with marginal gut function.
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