Weight management is critical for survival in motor neuron disease

Researchers from around the UK, led by a team at the University of Sheffield’s Institute for Translational Neuroscience (SITraN), have found new evidence to support early nutrition management in motor neuron disease (MND).

weight management picture

The first UK wide study into tube feeding in MND (ProGas) has found that MND patients benefited most from enteral feeding when they had lost less than 10 per cent of their body weight before the intervention. In contrast, significant weight loss at the onset of enteral feeding was associated with shorter survival.

Based on the results of the study, published in the journal The Lancet Neurology, the investigators recommend enteral feeding for MND patients as early as possible at five per cent weight loss from MND diagnosis.

Chief Investigator Dr Chris McDermott, Reader in Neurology at SITraN and Consultant Neurologist at the MND Care and Research Centre at the Sheffield Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust, said: “These findings will help health care professionals and patients to make informed decisions about the choice of gastrostomy method and timing.”

The prospective multi-centre evaluation of gastrostomy in patients with MND (ProGas) included data from 24 centres in the UK. A total of 330 patients in the study underwent gastrostomy which entails the insertion of a tube in the stomach to facilitate enteral feeding and were followed up for 12 months. The study aimed to provide evidence on the benefits and timing of gastrostomy feeding, as well as the optimum tube insertion method in terms of safety and clinical outcome.

Study author Dr Theocharis Stavroulakis, Research Associate at SITraN, who analysed the UK wide data said: “Although recommended by both the American Academy of Neurologists and European Federation of Neurological Societies, there was little evidence for the optimum method and timing for gastrostomy. Decisions in clinical practice are currently largely based on consensus and expert opinion. The aim of our study was to provide evidence for the available treatment options and establish guidelines for best clinical practice to improve care for MND patients.”