Although recent studies have shown that early enteral nutrition (EEN) has certain advantages over parenteral nutrition for preventing postoperative complications, few previous studies have examined the effects of enteral nutrition in patients undergoing esophagectomy. Here we review the effects of EEN with regular polymeric or other disease-specific enteral formulas in patients undergoing esophagectomy. Previously reported data suggest that nutritional management with early enteral feeding may be beneficial and that an appropriate selection of specific enteral formula enriched with disease-specific nutrients is important to prevent postoperative complications in patients undergoing radical esophagectomy. The use of immune-enhancing enteral formula (IEF) showed a certain benefit to enhance postoperative immunological function after esophagectomy. The use of IEF in the critically ill condition is still controversial, however, and thus the indication for using IEF in patients with septic complications after surgery should be considered carefully. IEF without the enrichment of arginine may be another option for patients with septic complications. EEN with a specific enteral formula may be important for patients with esophageal cancer after neoadjuvant chemotherapy or radiation therapy and salvage surgery to prevent postoperative complications and to improve nutritional status. Appropriate perioperative enteral formula enriched with disease-specific nutrients may be an important target of future clinical research for patients undergoing esophagectomy.
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