The gall bladder size was measured in 30 newborn infants: 18 had been fed parenterally and 12 enterally. The two groups were comparable for gestational age, birthweight, postnatal age and study weight. Exclusion criteria were haemodynamic instability, septicaemia, abdominal disease and opioid treatment. Gall bladder size was measured at 15 minute intervals for 90 minutes using real-time ultrasonography and the volume calculated using the ellipsoid method. Parenterally fed infants had further measurements at 120, 150, and 360 minutes. The gall bladder was significantly larger in parenterally fed infants than in enterally fed infants (p = 0.0001). In enterally fed infants a 50% reduction in gall bladder volume was observed 15 minutes after starting the feed with a return to baseline volume by 90 minutes. In parenterally fed infants there was no gall bladder contraction. Such information may give insight into the pathophysiology of hepato-biliary complications during parenteral nutrition in infants.
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