Efficacy of arginine-enriched enteral formulas in the reduction of surgical complications in head and neck cancer: a systematic review and meta-analysis.Clin Nutr 2014; 33(6):951-7CN
Arginine improves healing and modulates inflammation and the immune response. A systematic review and meta-analysis were conducted to assess whether arginine-enriched enteral formulas reduce complications (fistulas, wound infections, other infections) and hospital length of stay (LoS) in patients undergoing surgery for head and neck cancer.
Medline, CENTRAL, and Trip Database were searched using the search strategy "Head and Neck Neoplasms" AND "Enteral Nutrition" AND "Arginine" OR "Immunonutrition". Inclusion criteria comprised: type of study (RCT), language (English, Spanish), outcomes (complications of surgery, LoS), and methodological quality (Jadad scale). The odds ratio (OR) and confidence intervals (95% CI) were calculated using the Mantel-Haenszel method, and the mean difference (MD) with the random effects method. Heterogeneity was assessed using Cochran's Q.
Six studies were included, with 397 patients receiving peri/postoperative enteral nutrition with different doses of arginine (6.25-18.7 g/L). Enteral formulas containing arginine were associated with a reduction in fistulas [OR = 0.36 (95% CI 0.14-0.95), p = 0.039; Q = 3.93, p = 0.269], and LoS [MD = -6.8 (95% CI -12.6 to -0.9) days, p = 0.023; Q = 2.44, p = 0.486]. There were no reductions in wound infections [OR = 1.04 (95% CI 0.49-2.17), p = 0.925; Q = 1.60, p = 0.809] or other infections [OR = 0.79 (95% CI 0.48-1.31); p = 0.369; Q = 7.94, p = 0.094]. Arginine administration did not increase the occurrence of diarrhoea [OR = 1.80 (95% CI 0.50-6.52), p = 0.375; Q = 0.16, p = 0.691].
The administration of arginine-enriched enteral nutrition led to a significant reduction in fistulas and hospital stay in patients undergoing surgery for head and neck cancer.