Basic Terminology: What We Mean When We Say...
We recently had a reader point out that the Oley newsletters are full of terms and abbreviations that are new and unfamiliar to him—and he’s certainly not the first one to ask for clarification. Here, then, with thanks for this reader’s feedback, are some of the basic terms we use and a little bit about each:
Parenteral nutrition (or PN) is delivered into the bloodstream through a central venous catheter (CVC), which is also sometimes referred to as a central line or, as you’ll see in the article on thrombosis on the cover, a central vascular access device (VAD). When this nutrition therapy is administered in the home, we call it homePN, or HPN for short.
Parenteral means “outside the intestine.” Patients who use this therapy are fed a specially formulated solution through their central lines. The solutions contain nutrients that are already broken down into very simple or elemental parts that can be used by cells in the body. We sometimes use the terms intravenous feeding or IV feeding to denote parenteral nutrition.
Enteral nutrition (or EN) is delivered through a gastrostomy tube (G-tube) or a nasogastric tube (NG-tube) into the stomach (gastric = stomach), or through a jejunostomy (J-tube) into the intestine (jejunum = part of the intestine). G- and J-tubes enter into the stomach or intestine through a surgically formed opening, called a stoma. An NG-tube goes through the nose and down the esophagus into the stomach. Sometimes we call enteral nutrition tube feeding. Most people use special formulas for tube feeding, though some people create their own formulas/recipes with food and a blender. Note that PN solutions and EN solutions are very different from one another and are in no way interchangeable.
For those on home enteral feeding, we use the term homeEN, or HEN for short. Sometimes you’ll see the term homePEN (or HPEN)—that’s for those who use both PN and EN, or when we want to include both therapies in the discussion
And lastly, why do we so often use the term “consumers” instead of “patients” in the newsletter and in our discussions? Oley members have told us that, once they have mastered the “ins and outs” of the therapy they receive they would rather not be considered patients. As health care consumers, they prefer the term “consumers” and, as time passes, they insist on becoming “partners” with their health care providers.
Some terms are also explained here, and we’re looking to create a glossary. Your questions will help us make it as inclusive as possible! Please send any suggestions to Lisa Metzger at the Oley offices or at
, or call her at (800) 776-OLEY.