Providing artificial nutrition is an important part of caring for critically ill patients. However, because of a paucity of robust data, the practice has been highly variable and often based more on dogma than evidence. A number of studies have been published investigating many different aspects of critical care nutrition. Although the influx of data has better informed the practice, the results have often been conflicting or counter to prevailing thought, resulting in discordant opinions and different interpretations by experts in the field. In this article, we review and summarize the data from a number of the published studies, including studies investigating enteral vs parenteral nutrition, supplementing enteral with parenteral nutrition, and use of immunonutrition. In addition, published studies informing the practice of how best to provide enteral nutrition will be reviewed, including the use of trophic feedings, gastric residual volumes, and gastric vs postpyloric tube placement.
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