Total Parenteral Nutrition (TPN)

Your doctor has ordered total parenteral nutrition (TPN) for you. TPN will drip through a needle or catheter placed in your vein for 10-12 hours, once a day or five times a week.

TPN is used for patients who cannot or should not get their nutrition through eating. Your TPN may include a combination of sugar and carbohydrates (for energy), proteins (for muscle strength), lipids (fat), electrolytes, and trace elements. Your solution may contain all or some of these substances, depending on your condition.

Even though TPN often includes lipids, it will not make you fat. Everyone needs calories, protein, and fat, in addition to other substances, to stay healthy.

Electrolytes include sodium, potassium, chloride, phosphate, calcium, and magnesium. Trace elements include zinc, copper, manganese, and chromium. Electrolytes are important for maintaining almost every organ in your body. They help your heart, muscles, and nerves to work properly and keep you from becoming dehydrated.

Your health care provider (doctor, nurse, or pharmacist) may measure the effectiveness and side effects of your treatment using laboratory tests and physical examinations. It is important to keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory. The length of treatment depends on how you respond to the medication.

Precautions

Before administering total parenteral nutrition,

tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to any drugs.
tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications you are taking, especially dexamathasone (Decadron); medications for diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart disease; prednisone; tetracycline; and vitamins.
tell your doctor if you have or have ever had diabetes or heart, kidney, liver, lung, or Addison's disease.
tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding, so that the risks and benefits of receiving TPN can be discussed. If you continue to receive TPN while you are pregnant or breast-feeding, your doctor may change the combination of sugar, protein, fat, and other elements.