|Parenteral Nutrition Defined
Parenteral nutrition is administered outside the digestive tract, intravenously. This is in contrast to enteral nutrition, which encompasses oral and tube feedings into the digestive tract.
The general rule of thumb for deciding whether to use parenteral or enteral feeding, is "if the gut works, use it". The GI tract should be used if possible because it tends to atrophy when not used. Gut bacteria can translocate to the circulatory system through an atrophied GI tract and increase the risk of infection.