Objective — To compare complications, disability, and long-term mortality of patients who received direct enteral tube vs nasogastric tube feeding alone after acute stroke.
Methods — We used the Ontario Stroke Registry to identify patients who received direct enteral tubes (DET; gastrostomy or jejunostomy) or temporary nasogastric tubes (NGT) alone during hospital stay after acute ischemic stroke or intracerebral hemorrhage from July 1, 2003, to March 31, 2013. We used propensity matching to compare groups from discharge and evaluated discharge disability, institutionalization, complications, and mortality, with follow-up over 2 years, and with cumulative incidence functions used to account for competing risks.
Results — Among 1,448 patients with DET placement who survived until discharge, 1,421 were successfully matched to patients with NGT alone. Patients with DET had reduced risk of death within 30 days after discharge (9.7% vs 15.3%; hazard ratio [HR] 0.61, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.49–0.75), but this difference was eliminated after matching on length of stay and discharge disability (HR 0.90, 95% CI 0.70–1.17). Patients with DET had higher rates of severe disability at discharge (modified Rankin Scale score 4–5; 89.6% vs 78.4%), discharge to long-term care (38.0% vs 16.1%), aspiration pneumonia (14.4% vs 5.1%) and other complications, and mortality at 2 years (41.1% vs 35.9%).
Conclusions — Patients with DET placement after acute stroke have more severe disability at discharge compared to those with NGT placement alone, and associated higher rates of institutionalization, medical complications, and long-term mortality. These findings may inform goals of care discussions and decisions regarding long-term tube feeding after acute stroke.
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