How effective is enteral tube feeding for older people with advanced dementia?
None of the studies reported comparability on a range of key characteristics between the intervention group and the comparison group. All studies were further limited in the range of their evaluation of enteral tube feeding outcomes. None of the studies examined quality of life. Enteral tube feeding may increase the risk of developing pneumonia due to inhaling small quantities of the feed, and may also increase the risk of death.
The use of enteral tube feeding for patients with advanced dementia who have poor nutritional intake is common. In one US survey, 34% of 186,835 nursing home residents with advanced cognitive impairment were tube fed. Two methods of enteral tube feeding are commonly used: the administration of food and fluids via a nasogastric tube or via a percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG). Potential benefits or harms of this practice are unclear.