Chewing gum in preventing postoperative ileus in women undergoing caesarean section: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials

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The incidence of postoperative ileus (POI) after gynaecological surgery is 10–15% Chewing gum following general surgery improves outcomes, including early flatus, early bowel sounds, and shortening of hospitalisation periods. There is currently no guideline that supports the use of chewing gum after caesarean sections.


To systematically analyse the published randomised controlled trials regarding the effectiveness of chewing gum in preventing POI in women undergoing caesarean sections.

Search strategy

Systematic search of medical databases up to March 2013.

Selection criteria

Randomised controlled trials that reported the role of chewing gum in preventing POI in women undergoing caesarean sections.

Data collection and analysis

Two authors independently identified the relevant studies for inclusion, extracted outcome-related data, and analysed it systematically using revman®. The combined outcome was expressed as an odds ratio and standardised mean difference.

Main results

Seven randomised controlled trials involving 1462 women (728 in the chewing gum group, 734 controls) were systematically analysed. There was significant heterogeneity (χ2 = 29.02, df = 7; P < 0.0001; I2 = 76%) among the included trials. Among women undergoing caesarean sections, chewing gum reduced the risk of POI (odds ratio 0.36; 95% confidence interval 0.19–0.69; z = 3.08; P < 0.002) but did not affect duration of hospitalisation (P = 0.32).


Chewing gum for 30–60 minutes at least three times a day appears to be effective in reducing the incidence and consequences of POI following caesarean sections.

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