BACKGROUND Proper caloric intake goals in critically ill surgical patients are unclear. It is possible that overnutrition can lead to hyperglycemia and an increased risk of infection. OBJECTIVE This study was conducted to determine whether surgical infection outcomes in the intensive care unit (ICU) could be improved with the use of hypocaloric nutritional support. DESIGN Eighty-three critically ill patients were randomly allocated to receive either the standard calculated daily caloric requirement of 25-30 kcal · kg(-1) · d(-1) (eucaloric) or 50% of that value (hypocaloric) via enteral tube feeds or parenteral nutrition, with an equal protein allocation in each group (1.5 g · kg(-1) · d(-1)). RESULTS There were 82 infections in the hypocaloric group and 66 in the eucaloric group, with no significant difference in the mean (± SE) number of infections per patient (2.0 ± 0.6 and 1.6 ± 0.2, respectively; P = 0.50), percentage of patients acquiring infection [70.7% (29 of 41) and 76.2% (32 of 42), respectively; P = 0.57], mean ICU length of stay (16.7 ± 2.7 and 13.5 ± 1.1 d, respectively; P = 0.28), mean hospital length of stay (35.2 ± 4.9 and 31.0 ± 2.5 d, respectively; P = 0.45), mean 0600 glucose concentration (132 ± 2.9 and 135 ± 3.1 mg/dL, respectively; P = 0.63), or number of mortalities [3 (7.3%) and 4 (9.5%), respectively; P = 0.72]. Further analyses revealed no differences when analyzed by sex, admission diagnosis, site of infection, or causative organism. CONCLUSIONS Among critically ill surgical patients, caloric provision across a wide acceptable range does not appear to be associated with major outcomes, including infectious complications. The optimum target for caloric provision remains elusive.
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