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Sometimes, for a variety of different reasons, a person is unable to get a healthy level of nutrition by taking in food through his or her intestines. Total parenteral nutrition (TPN) is the standard therapy for people who have this problem. TPN can be used to treat a severe disorder that is expected to last for a relatively short time, such as intractable vomiting during pregnancy. It is also used as a long-term therapy.
With total parenteral nutrition, a solution of essential nutrients (including proteins, fluids, electrolytes, and fat-soluble vitamins) is given into the veins (intravenously). Because TPN solutions are highly concentrated and thick, the solutions must be given through catheters that are placed in large central veins in the neck, chest, or groin. An infusion pump controls the rate at which the TPN solution is given, so that the concentrated food does not overload other digestive organs. For many patients receiving TPN, the pump is portable.
About half of patients receiving TPN need long-term or permanent TPN therapy. Most patients who are on permanent TPN receive the therapy at home. Approximately 40,000 people in the United States are receiving TPN at home.
Total parenteral nutrition gives many people without the use of their intestines a chance at long, productive lives. Still, patients receiving TPN are always at risk of complications from the procedure. Complications may include:
The long-term survival prospects of patients maintained through total parenteral nutrition vary, depending on the cause of intestinal failure. Three-year survival of TPN-dependent patients ranges from 65 to 80 percent. For the 20 to 35 percent of patients who fare poorly on TPN, intestinal transplantation may be a life-saving procedure. Other patients who are successfully maintained by TPN may also benefit from an intestine transplant.
Learn more with our Frequently Asked Questions about TPN.
Children's Hospital's main campus is located in the Lawrenceville neighborhood. Our main hospital address is:
UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh
One Children’s Hospital Way
4401 Penn Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15224
In addition to the main hospital, Children's has many convenient locations in other neighborhoods throughout the greater Pittsburgh region.
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