Early Oral Feeding as Compared With Traditional Timing of Oral Feeding After Upper Gastrointestinal Surgery: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

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Abstract

Objective:

To compare the effects of early oral feeding to traditional (or late) timing of oral feeding after upper gastrointestinal surgery on clinical outcomes.

Background:

Early postoperative oral feeding is becoming more common, particularly as part of multimodal or fast-track protocols. However, concerns remain about the safety of early oral feeding after upper gastrointestinal surgery.

Methods:

Comprehensive literature searches were conducted across 5 databases from January 1980 until June 2015 without language restriction. Risk of bias of included studies was appraised and random-effects model meta-analyses were performed to synthesize outcomes of anastomotic leaks, pneumonia, nasogastric tube reinsertion, reoperation, readmissions, and mortality.

Results:

Fifteen studies comprising 2112 adult patients met all the inclusion criteria. Mean hospital stay was significantly shorter in the early-fed group than in the late-fed group [weighted mean difference = −1.72 d, 95% confidence interval (CI) −1.25 to −2.20, P < 0.01). Postoperative length of stay was also significantly shorter (weighted mean difference = −1.44 d, 95% CI −0.68 to −2.20, P < 0.01). There was no significant difference in risk of anastomotic leak, pneumonia, nasogastric tube reinsertion, reoperation, readmission, or mortality in the randomized controlled trials (RCTs). The pooled RCT and non-RCT results, however, showed a significantly lower risk of pneumonia in early-fed as compared with late-fed group (odds ratio = 0.6, 95% CI 0.41–0.89, P = 0.01).

Conclusions:

Early postoperative oral feeding as compared with traditional (or late) timing is associated with shorter hospital length of stay and is not associated with an increase in clinically relevant complications.

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