Nutritional Support during Surgery: Improving Patient Outcomes

Nutritional Support during Surgery: Improving Patient Outcomes

Following surgery, patients must recover not only from their original disease, but also from the surgery itself. This is where nutritional support becomes important.

Successful wound healing involves various processes, all of which lead to higher demand for nutrients, and as such, nutritional deficiencies can hamper wound healing.1

Oral protein supplementation may improve survival and prevent complications in patients undergoing surgery. 2

Adequate protein intake also regains muscle strength, especially during rehabilitation in orthopedic cases.

Amino acids, arginine and glutamine are not only vital for tissue repair; they have also shown to play a role in supporting the immune system and thereby help reduce the risk of post-surgical infections. 1,4

Similarly, omega-3 fatty acids are thought to be “immune-modulating” and have shown to reduce post-operative complications, infections and length of hospital stay.5

The use of oral nutrition supplements is not restricted to the period after surgery; studies indicate that patients may also benefit from receiving oral nutritional supplementation even prior to the surgery.6,7

When it comes to oral protein supplements for patients, whey protein is a commonly used constituent. Hydrolyzed whey protein provides partially broken down protein, suitable for individuals that require a quickly absorbed protein source.

Many patients who require surgery are malnourished or unable to eat before or after the surgery. In these individuals, providing nutrition support, by either oral nutritional supplements or tube feeding, is necessary.7

A dietary plan can be created and started before the patient undergoes surgery. If required, oral nutrition formula can be given via a feeding tube. Ensuring adequate nutrition in these patients can help improve patient outcomes. 8

  1. MacKay D, Miller AL. Altern Med Rev. 2003;8:359-377.
  2. Oliver D, Griffiths R, Roche J, Sahota O. BMJ Clin Evid. 2010;2010.
  3. Holm L, Esmarck B, Mizuno M, et al. J Orthop Res. 2006;24:2114-2123.
  4. Braga M, Gianotti L, Vignali A, Carlo VD. Surgery. 2002;132:805-814.
  5. Pradelli L, Mayer K, Muscaritoli M, Heller AR. Crit Care. 2012;16:R184.
  6. Smedley F, Bowling T, James M, et al. Br J Surg. 2004;91:983-990.
  7. Weimann A, Braga M, Harsanyi L, et al. Clin Nutr. 2006;25:224-244.

Fearon KC, Luff R. Proc Nutr Soc. 2003;62:807-811.