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Assessing nutritional status in the ICU 

Assessing nutritional status in the ICU
Assessing nutritional status in the ICU

Pierre-Yves Egreteau

and Jean-Michel Boles

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date: 05 July 2022

Decreased nutrient intake, increased body requirements, and/or altered nutrient utilization are frequently combined in critically-ill patients. The initial nutritional status and the extent of the disease-related catabolism are the main risk factors for nutrition- related complications. Many complications are related to protein energy malnutrition, which is frequent in the ICU setting. Assessing nutritional status pursues several different goals. Nutritional assessment is required for patients presenting with clinical evidence of malnutrition, with chronic diseases, with acute conditions accompanied by a high catabolic rate, and elderly patients. Recording the patient’s history, nutrient intake, and physical examination, and subjective global assessment allows classification of nutritional status. All the traditional markers of malnutrition, anthropometric measurements and plasma proteins, lose their specificity in the sick adult as each may be affected by a number of non-nutritional factors. Muscle function evaluated by hand-grip strength in cooperative patients and serum albumin provide an objective risk assessment. Several nutritional indices have been validated in specific groups of patients to identify patients at risk of nutritionally-mediated complications and, therefore, the need for nutritional support. A strong suspicion remains the best way of uncovering potentially harmful nutritional deficiencies.

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