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TPN vs PPN

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  • 0:03 Parenteral Nutrition
  • 1:28 Total Parenteral Nutrition
  • 2:19 Peripheral Parenteral…
  • 3:26 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Danielle Haak

Danielle has a PhD in Natural Resource Sciences and a MSc in Biological Sciences

TPN and PPN are two types of parenteral nutrition used to deliver nutrients directly into the bloodstream. In this lesson, we'll look at the intended uses of each so you can understand the differences between them.

Parenteral Nutrition

Wow - it's pretty intimidating to start a lesson with nothing but acronyms to go off of, but this will be painless and you'll walk away with a good understanding of TPN and PPN. First of all, TPN stands for total parenteral nutrition, and PPN stands for peripheral parenteral nutrition. So right off the bat you can see we're going to be discussing two types of parenteral nutrition. That's a good start.

So what is parenteral nutrition? Parenteral nutrition is used to treat patients who cannot eat or have limited digestive powers by providing a liquid mixture of nutrients directly to the bloodstream. Parenteral nutrition is delivered intravenously to a vein and includes protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, and any other nutrients required by the body.

Parenteral nutrition is different than enteral nutrition, which is the use of a feeding tube to provide nutrients directly to the stomach for digestion. Parenteral nutrition may be used if a feeding tube didn't work or if the patient suffers from conditions like Crohn's disease, cancer, short bowel syndrome, or ischemic bowel disease to list a few.

Now that we have that out of the way, let's look at the two types of parenteral nutrition: total parenteral nutrition and peripheral parenteral nutrition.

Total Parenteral Nutrition (TPN)

Total parenteral nutrition, or TPN, is used when this is the only source of nutrition the patient is receiving. They're entirely dependent on TPN for all of their nutrition. It is primarily used to treat patients with digestive system disorders or patients who are recovering from a serious accident or surgery.

TPN delivers a liquid mix of nutrients at a very high concentration and is high in calories, so less volume is needed (when compared to PPN). For example, carbohydrates are more than 10% of the solution. Because of this higher concentration of nutrients, TPN has to be delivered through a large vein, usually found in the neck or chest. Because it's delivered through a major vein, TPN is typically used for long-term treatment cases, though patients are at a higher risk of infection.

Peripheral Parenteral Nutrition (PPN)

Now that we have an understanding of TPN, let's look at peripheral parenteral nutrition (or PPN). PPN is used when the patient has another source of nutrition; it's meant to act as a supplement rather than the patient's only nutrient source. As a result, PPN is less concentrated and lower in calories than TPN and can be administered through smaller, peripheral veins (hence, the name PPN). However, because it uses smaller veins, PPN is not meant to be used long-term because it can damage these more vulnerable veins.

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