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August 1973

Experience With Elemental Diet in the Treatment of Inflammatory Bowel DiseaseIs This Primary Therapy?

Author Affiliations

From the McGill University Surgical Clinic of the Montreal General Hospital. Dr. Gurd is now with the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, Ottawa.

Arch Surg. 1973;107(2):329-333. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1973.01350200189039

Thirteen patients with inflammatory bowel disease were treated 17 times for an average of 22 days with elemental diet. The diet was well tolerated in all but one patient. All but one demonstrated weight gain and positive nitrogen balance, without apparent irritation of the inflamed gut. Nine patients were considered to have indications for surgery and seven underwent operation, approaching it in an improved nutritional state and withstanding it well. Elemental diet is able to provide nutrition while allowing bowel rest, without the risks of intravenous hyperalimentation. Occasionally indications for surgery resolve during the period of nutritional improvement. Whether this represents a primary therapeutic effect of elemental diet or the natural course of the disease remains to be examined by controlled studies.