Weight and force feeding
I have a very hard time gaining weight. Recently, I asked to be force-fed intravenously, but my physician seems very reluctant, and I can’t understand why. Is it the cost, the effectiveness or the risks, or all of these reasons together?
The intravenous force-feeding to which you are referring is usually called parenteral hyperalimentation. It is a form of total parenteral nutrition used as a last resort for malnourished persons who cannot absorb nutrients through their digestive systems.
However, when oral alimentation is insufficient but the digestive tract remains functional, which can happen in people with cystic fibrosis, enteric tube feeding is used. This can be done in three ways: by means of a nasogastric tube (from the nasal passages to the stomach), a gastrostomy tube (inserted directly into the stomach) or a jejunostomy tube (inserted directly into the intestine).
Intravenous or parenteral hyperalimentation is generally used in hospitals when the intestines are not functional (because of an inflammatory disease, infection or tumour, or following surgery). It is, indeed, more costly, and furthermore, it is associated with increased complications (blood clots in the veins and infections) following prolonged use of central catheters.