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Born, Christoph; de la Fontaine, Larissa; Winter, Bettina; Müller, Norbert; Schaub, Annette; Früstück, Clemens; Schüle, Cornelius; Voderholzer, Ulrich; Cuntz, Ulrich; Falkai, Peter und Meisenzahl, Eva M.: First results of a refeeding program in a psychiatric intensive care unit for patients with extreme anorexia nervosa. In: BMC Psychiatry 2015, 15:57


Background Anorexia nervosa (AN) is associated with a high mortality rate. This study describes a compulsory re-feeding program established in Munich for extremely underweight patients. Methods The contract between the patient and the therapeutic team included mandatory inpatient status, establishment of guardianship and compulsory re-feeding with a percutaneous gastric feeding tube, as indicated. The predefined target was a body mass index (BMI) of 17 kg/m2. Data on the first 68 patients with AN are presented. Results 65 (95.6%) patients were female and mean age at admission was 26.5 ± 8.5 years. BMI increased from 12.3 ± 1.4 kg/m2 at admission to 16.7 ± 1.7 kg/m2 at discharge. Thirty-two (47.1%) patients had the restrictive subtype (ANR) and 36 (52.9%) had the binging and purging subtype (ANBP). Duration of illness before admission (p = .004), days of treatment until discharge (p = .001) and weight increase (p = .02) were significantly different between subgroups in favor of patients with ANR. Also, seasonal differences could be found. Comparison of feeding methods showed that percutaneous tube feeding was superior. Almost half of the patients were treated with psychotropic medication. To date, however, the number of patients included in this program is too small to assess rare complications of this acute treatment program and long term outcomes of AN. Conclusions An intensive care program for severely ill AN patients has been successfully established. Besides averting physical harm in the short term, this program was designed to enable these patients to participate in more sophisticated psychotherapeutic programs afterwards. To our knowledge, this is the first such program that regularly uses percutaneous feeding tubes.