Guidelines for patients with severe traumatic brain injury (sTBI) published in 2007 recommend providing early nutrition after trauma. Early enteral nutrition (EN) started within 48h post-injury reduces clinical malnutrition, prevents bacterial translocation from the gastrointestinal tract, and improves outcome in sTBI patients sustaining hypermetabolism and hypercatabolism. The aim of this study was to examine the effect of early EN support on survival rate, Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) score, and clinical outcome of sTBI patients. Medical records of sTBI patients with GCS scores 4-8 were recruited from 18 hospitals in Taiwan, excluding patients with GCS scores ≤3. During 2002-2010, data from 145 EN patients receiving appropriate calories and nutrients within 48h post-trauma were collected and compared with 152 non-EN controls matched for gender, age, body weight, initial GCS score, and operative status. The EN patients had a greater survival rate and GCS score on the 7th day in the intensive care unit (ICU), and a better outcome at 1 month post-injury. After adjusting for age, gender, initial GCS score, and recruitment period, the non-EN patients had a hazard ratio of 14.63 (95% CI 8.58-24.91) compared with EN patients. The GCS score during the first 7 ICU days was significantly improved among EN patients with GCS scores of 6-8 compared with EN patients with GCS scores of 4-5 and non-EN patients with GCS scores of 6-8. This finding demonstrates that EN within 48h post-injury is associated with better survival, GCS recovery, and outcome among sTBI patients, particularly in those with a GCS score of 6-8.
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