Chyme reinfusion is an enteral nutrition technique where dietary losses that have been collected in a stoma bag are refed back into the efferent diverted small bowel segment via the enterostomy or enterocutaneous fistula (ECF).
By artificially re-establishing the small bowel continuity of chyme, reinfusion allows the regular gastrointestinal function of the distal gut to continue to absorb nutrients and process the chyme.
Chyme is often inappropriately referred to as ‘waste output’ but is in fact a natural and complex composition of valuable digestive secretions, nutrients and electrolytes from oral food and/or tube feeding that are crucial to maintaining electrolyte balance, hydration levels, and gut microbiome condition.
Chyme reinfusion has been clinically proven to restore digestive functions and help optimize the nutritional status of patients, consequently minimizing complications and time in hospital.
Although first described in 1977 by Dr Etienne Levy, it has only recently begun to be adopted as an alternative therapy for patients at risk of high intestinal output losses and intestinal failure. These patients include those with enterocutaneous fistulas, loop ileostomies and double barrel ileostomies.
International leaders in chyme reinfusion in France, New Zealand and Australia have been investigating the physiological benefits of chyme reinfusion versus more traditional feeding methods such as parenteral nutrition.
This work is creating awareness of chyme reinfusion as a treatment option. Traditional methods such as manual syringing of chyme have been time consuming and unpleasant for both the patient and the health professional.
New medical devices such as the ‘Active-Link’ device from Surgical Design Studio have been developed specifically for chyme reinfusion, with a focus on delivering optimized clinical outcomes and ease of use as a life-saving treatment.