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01.12.2018 | Research | Ausgabe 1/2018 Open Access

Critical Care 1/2018

Cost-effectiveness study of early versus late parenteral nutrition in critically ill children (PEPaNIC): preplanned secondary analysis of a multicentre randomised controlled trial

Critical Care > Ausgabe 1/2018
Esther van Puffelen, Suzanne Polinder, Ilse Vanhorebeek, Pieter Jozef Wouters, Niek Bossche, Guido Peers, Sören Verstraete, Koen Felix Maria Joosten, Greet Van den Berghe, Sascha Cornelis Antonius Theodorus Verbruggen, Dieter Mesotten
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (doi:https://​doi.​org/​10.​1186/​s13054-017-1936-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.



The multicentre randomised controlled PEPaNIC trial showed that withholding parenteral nutrition (PN) during the first week of critical illness in children was clinically superior to providing early PN. This study describes the cost-effectiveness of this new nutritional strategy.


Direct medical costs were calculated with use of a micro-costing approach. We compared the costs of late versus early initiation of PN (n = 673 versus n = 670 patients) in the Belgian and Dutch study populations from a hospital perspective, using Student’s t test with bootstrapping. Main cost drivers were identified and the impact of new infections on the total costs was assessed.


Mean direct medical costs for patients receiving late PN (€26.680, IQR €10.090–28.830 per patient) were 21% lower (-€7.180, p = 0.007) than for patients receiving early PN (€33.860, IQR €11.080–34.720). Since late PN was more effective and less costly, this strategy was superior to early PN. The lower costs for PN only contributed 2.1% to the total cost reduction. The main cost driver was intensive care hospitalisation costs (-€4.120, p = 0.003). The patients who acquired a new infection (14%) were responsible for 41% of the total costs. Sensitivity analyses confirmed consistency across both healthcare systems.


Late initiation of PN decreased the direct medical costs for hospitalisation in critically ill children, beyond the expected lower costs for withholding PN. Avoiding new infections by late initiation of PN yielded a large cost reduction. Hence, late initiation of PN was superior to early initiation of PN largely via its effect on new infections.

Trial registration, NCT01536275. Registered on 16 February 2012.
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