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Anton Buter

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date: 19 September 2020

Gastrointestinal complications after cardiac surgery are fortunately rare as they carry a significant mortality rate. It remains one of the greatest clinical and diagnostic challenges in cardiac ICU. A general surgeon should be involved early as a delay in diagnosis and treatment has a high mortality. A team approach to management is ideal to ensure that patients receive timely intervention when needed but also, and just as important, that patients in whom death is inevitable do not suffer pointless and frankly cruel interventions in the final stages of their lives. The investigation and management of common gastrointestinal complications of cardiac surgery are reviewed. It is estimated that 10–40% of all patients in hospital are undernourished. In addition, critically ill patients lose approximately 5–10% of skeletal muscle mass per week during their ICU stay. It is therefore recommended that critical care patients are fed to counteract catabolic state.

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