The pre-treatment nutritional status of patients with acute abdominal injury, or chronic gastrointestinal (GI) illness plays a large role in post-surgical course of recovery. Likewise, their ability to obtain nutrition after treatment significantly impacts long-term health outcomes and quality of life.
David Soybel, M.D.
Physicians at Penn State Hershey Medical Center and Penn State College of Medicine are investigating how to better detect and address nutritional needs before and after major complex GI surgery. According to David Soybel, M.D., “A significant proportion of patients with complex medical histories have pre-existing deficiencies in specific micronutrients such as zinc, copper, selenium, and magnesium. Major procedures place high demands on already compromised micronutrient stores, and often put these patients into a state of ‘micronutrient distress’ that may be associated with longer and more complicated recovery.”
Soybel’s research aims to establish methods to routinely detect and treat these deficiencies in high-risk patients, both before and after surgery. “Pre-surgical recognition of micronutrient deficiencies would provide the opportunity for micronutrient repletion and other interventions, and better prepare patients to get well post-surgery,” says Soybel. “Likewise, in acute situations, recognition of such deficiencies and rapid intervention could help patients better recover after emergency procedures.”
Gordon Lee Jensen, M.D., Ph.D.
Based in State College and one of few physicians in the country who specializes in management of intestinal failure, Gordon Lee Jensen, M.D., Ph.D., explains, “In the past, many of these intestinal failure patients would have died or become indefinitely dependent on intravenous, total parenteral nutrition (TPN). But now, because of new medications and advances in medical nutrition therapy, some can eventually come off of TPN and lead more normal lives. Today, TPN is more often a temporary supportive measure. Successful transition off of TPN depends on a number of factors. If a patient has at least 100 cm of small bowel length and a portion of intact colon (or at least 150 cm of small bowel and no functional or intact colon), and residual disease is controlled, then the odds are favorable for them to eventually adapt to enteral or oral nutrition.” Continue reading