Chewing gum reduces postoperative ileus following abdominal surgery: A meta-analysis of 17 randomized controlled trials

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Background and Aim

Chewing gum proposal has been used in surgery to reduce postoperative ileus for more than 10 years; however, the efficacy remains imprecise. The aim of this study was to accurately assess whether the use of the chewing gum could reduce duration of postoperative ileus following the abdominal surgery.


A systematic review was conducted in Medline, EMBASE, and the Cochrane Library through December 2012 to identify randomized controlled trials comparing with and without the use of chewing gum in patients undergoing abdominal surgery. The outcome of interest was time to flatus, time to bowel movement, and length of stay. Subgroup analyses were performed to examine the impact of different studies structural design. Cumulative meta-analyses were used to examine how the evidence has changed over time.


Seventeen randomized controlled trials involving 1374 participants were included. Overall time (in days) for the patients to pass flatus (weighted mean difference [WMD], −0.31; 95% confidence interval [CI], −0.43 to −0.19; P = 0.000); time to bowel movement (WMD, −0.51; 95% CI, −0.73 to −0.29; P = 0.000); and length of stay (WMD, −0.72; 95% CI, −1.02 to −0.43; P = 0.000) were significantly reduced in the treatment group. However, both of these results demonstrated significant heterogeneity. No evidence of publication bias was observed. Cumulative meta-analysis showed that chewing gum reduces duration of postoperative ileus that has been available for over 6 years.


Results of the meta-analysis suggest that chewing gum following abdominal surgery offers benefits in reducing the time of postoperative ileus.

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