Routine gastric residual volume measurement and energy target achievement in the PICU: a comparison study

Lyvonne N. Tume*, Anna Bickerdike, Lynne Latten, Simon Davies, Madeleine H. Lefèvre, Gaëlle W. Nicolas, Frédéric V. Valla

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)


Critically ill children frequently fail to achieve adequate energy intake, and some care practices, such as the measurement of gastric residual volume (GRV), may contribute to this problem. We compared outcomes in two similar European Paediatric Intensive Care Units (PICUs): one which routinely measures GRV (PICU-GRV) to one unit that does not (PICU-noGRV). An observational pilot comparison study was undertaken. Eighty-seven children were included in the study, 42 (PICU-GRV) and 45 (PICU-noGRV). There were no significant differences in the percentage of energy targets achieved in the first 4 days of PICU admission although PICU-noGRV showed more consistent delivery of median (and IQR) energy targets and less under and over feeding for PICU-GRV and PICU-noGRV: day 1 37 (14–72) vs 44 (0–100), day 2 97 (53–126) vs 100 (100–100), day 3 84 (45–112) vs 100 (100–100) and day 4 101 (63–124) vs 100 (100–100). The incidence of vomiting was higher in PICU-GRV. No necrotising enterocolitis was confirmed in either unit, and ventilator-acquired pneumonia rates were not significantly different (7.01 vs 12 5.31 per 1000 ventilator days; p = 0.70) between PICU-GRV and PICU-noGRV units. Conclusions: The practice of routine gastric residual measurement did not significantly impair energy targets in the first 4 days of PICU admission. However, not measuring GRV did not increase vomiting, ventilator-acquired pneumonia or necrotising enterocolitis, which is the main reason clinicians cite for measuring GRV.What is known:• The practice of routinely measuring gastric residual volume is widespread in critical care units• This practice is increasingly being questioned in critically ill patients, both as a practice that increases• The likelihood of delivering inadequate enteral nutrition amounts and as a tool to assess feeding toleranceWhat is new:• Not routinely measuring gastric residual volume did not increase adverse events of ventilator acquired pneumonia, necrotising enterocolitis or vomiting.• In the first 4 days of PICU stay, energy target achievement was not significantly different, but the rates of under and over feeding were higher in the routine GRV measurement unit.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1637-1644
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Pediatrics
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017


  • Enteral feeding
  • Feeding tolerance
  • Nursing practice
  • Nutrition
  • Paediatric intensive care


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