Randomized Controlled Trial Assessing the Feasibility of Shortened Fasts in Intubated ICU Patients Undergoing Tracheotomy

Nathan Gonik, Andrew Tassler, Thomas J. Ow, Richard V. Smith, Stefan Shuaib, Hillel W. Cohen, Catherine Sarta, Bradley A. Schiff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Objective American Society of Anesthesiology guidelines recommend preoperative fasts of 6 hours after light snacks and 8 hours after large meals. These guidelines were designed for healthy patients undergoing elective procedures but are often applied to intubated intensive care unit (ICU) patients. ICU patients undergoing routine procedures may be subjected to unnecessary prolonged fasts. This study tests whether shorter fasts allow for better nutrition delivery and patient outcomes without increasing the risk. Study Design Randomized blinded controlled trial. Setting Tertiary academic medical center. Subjects ICU patients undergoing bedside tracheotomy. Methods Intubated ICU patients who were receiving enteral feeding and for whom bedside tracheotomy was indicated were enrolled prospectively and randomly allocated to 2 parallel preoperative fasting regimens: a 6-hour fast (control) and a 45-minute fast (intervention). Patients were assessed for aspiration, caloric delivery, metabolic markers, and infectious and noninfectious complications. Results Twenty-four patients were enrolled and randomized. There were no complications related to the procedure. There were no cases of intraoperative aspiration identified. There was a single postoperative pneumonia in the control group. Median (interquartile range) length of fast and caloric delivery were significantly different between the control group and the shortened fast group: 22 hours (18, 34) vs 14 hours (5, 25; P <.001) and 429 kcal (57, 1125) vs 1050 kcal (825, 1410; P =.01), respectively. Conclusions Shortening preoperative fasts in intubated ICU patients allowed for better caloric delivery in the preoperative period.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)87-93
Number of pages7
JournalOtolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery (United States)
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016


  • ICU
  • enteral
  • fast
  • nutrition
  • preoperative
  • tracheotomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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