A Comprehensive Guide to Parenteral Nutrition Pumps

A Comprehensive Guide to Parenteral Nutrition Pumps

Written by: Giulia Morgan



Time to read 5 min

When people face difficulties eating due to medical conditions, the solution to preventing malnutrition is parenteral nutrition pumps. Parenteral nutrition, often referred to as PN, can be a life-saving therapy for many medical conditions including intestinal failure, gastrointestinal disorders, severe nausea as a result of chemotherapy, and much more. In this blog, we will look at the different methods of delivering parenteral nutrition, the types of parenteral nutrition pumps, and important features to remember when considering a parenteral nutrition pump. 

What is parenteral nutrition?

Parenteral nutrition is a method of delivering essential nutrients to the body through intravenous lines (IVs). The two types of parenteral nutrition include total parenteral nutrition and peripheral parenteral nutrition. Typically, PN solutions contain a personalized mixture of carbohydrates, fats, protein, vitamins electrolytes, and minerals to ensure that the patient’s nutritional needs are being met. Parenteral nutrition can play a key role in maintaining nutrition to optimize the body’s ability to heal and fight off illness.

What are the methods of delivering parenteral nutrition?

The methods of delivering parenteral nutrition include gravity delivery and mechanical delivery. The gravity delivery method uses the force of gravity to push the PN solution through the IV lines. Typically, patients will hang the PN solution from an IV pole. The height of the IV pole will be adjusted to a higher height for a faster delivery rate or a lower height for a slower delivery rate. When the bags are not in use, they can be stored in the Fluid Motion Backpack for easy transportation. The advantages of this method include that it is specifically designed for short-term uses and the simplicity of the method allows it to be cost-efficient. However, using gravity can make it difficult to get precise control over infusion rates and the delivery rate can be affected by the patient’s movement. Alternatively, the mechanical delivery method uses infusion pumps to regulate the flow of the PN solution at a set rate. When setting up the mechanical delivery system, a pump is connected to the solution and programmed to a specified infusion rate. This method can be great for patients who need a specified infusion rate to prevent under-feeding or over-feeding. Another benefit is that mechanical systems are designed to be used for patients needing long-term treatment. With that being said, mechanical systems tend to be more costly and require more equipment than gravity method systems.

What are the types of parenteral nutrition pumps?

1. Syringe Pumps:

Syringe pumps are designed to accurately deliver small amounts of parenteral nutrition solution within a given period. This type of pump involves a plunger pushing fluids through a typical syringe. While syringe pumps can be used with gravity systems and mechanical systems, they are typically used when the mechanical method is being used. When the syringe pump is used on a mechanical system, an electric motor is used to precisely regulate the flow of the fluids. Alternatively, when used with the gravity method, syringes are adapted to allow the plunger to slowly flow based on the force of gravity.

2. Volumetric Pumps

Volumetric pumps are typically used for long-term parenteral nutrition therapy. This type of pump is not recommended for patients using the gravity infusion as this method is designed to be for short-term use. Volumetric pumps use electronic controls for precise and regulated infusion over time.

3. Multi-lumen Pumps

Similar to volumetric pumps, multi-lumen pumps are not designed to be used with the gravity infusion method due to the complex electronic controls that are needed for the pump to work properly. This pump is designed to infuse parenteral nutrition while simultaneously delivering other medications and fluids at various infusion rates.

What are some of the most popular pumps?

1. The Curlin 6000 by Moog

The Curlin 6000 by Moog is a popular choice for patients receiving small doses of parenteral nutrition solution. The system has accurate measurements and is designed to have short programing times making it a common choice for ambulances and home health care.

2. The Novum IQ Syringe Pump by Baxter

The Novum IQ Syringe Pump by Baxter is designed to deliver small and accurate doses. Baxter pumps are a popular choice of pump for patients as the systems are known for being reliable.

3. Infusomat® Space® Large Volume Pump by Braun

The Infusomat® Space® Large Volume Pump by Braun is designed for infusing larger doses of parenteral nutrition solution. This style of pump is often used in hospitals and for patients receiving long-term therapy.

4. The Ivenix Infusion System by Fresenius Kabi

The Ivenix Infusion System by Fresenius Kabi is considered a “smart pump” containing advanced technologies that combine the features of syringe pumps and volumetric pumps. This pump is great for patients who frequently need to change dosing as it user user-friendly and has precise measurements.

5. Medfusion 3500 by Smith Medical

The Medfusion 3500 by Smith Medical is a syringe-style pump commonly used in hospitals. The pump is designed to accurately control infusion rates which can be best suited for patients who are undergoing intensive therapy.

What are the key features to consider when choosing a parenteral nutrition method and pump?

Syringe pumps, volumetric pumps, and multi-lumen pumps all have their place as unique treatment devices. When considering which style of pump you will need, it is important to consider the duration of your treatment and the precision and control offered by each pump. Be sure to ask a medical professional for guidance that fits your specific needs. If you are undergoing a short parenteral nutrition, the gravity method may be best for your needs as it is intended to be for short-term use and is the most cost-conscious option. With that being said, if you need a high-control and precise system, you may want to consider a mechanical system. If you expect to undergo a longer period of parenteral nutrition, the mechanical method would likely best fit your needs. When choosing a pump for the mechanical method, the most important factor to consider is volume. A syringe pump is intended to be used for small amounts of parenteral nutrition solution, while volumetric and multi-lumen pumps are intended to be used for larger volumes of solution. Multi-lumen pumps are also able to deliver other medications and fluids simultaneously which could be another driving factor in choosing this style of pump. You should keep the key features of each pump in mind when choosing the method that best fits your needs.

Parenteral nutrition can be key in ensuring that people who are unable to eat can meet their nutritional needs. When using parenteral nutrition, patients should consider the pros and cons of each method to choose between the gravity infusion method and the mechanical infusion method. Furthermore, patients should consider the various features of syringe pumps, volumetric pumps, and multi-lumen pumps. By understanding the differences between the various methods and pumps related to parenteral nutrition, you have all you need to make the best decision for your nutritional needs!

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