Gum chewing during pre-anesthetic fasting

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Abstract

Many ad hoc fasting guidelines for pre-anesthetic patients prohibit gum chewing. We find no evidence that gum chewing during pre-anesthetic fasting increases the volume or acidity of gastric juice in a manner that increases risk, nor that the occasional associated unreported swallowing of gum risks subsequent aspiration. On the contrary, there is evidence that gum chewing promotes gastrointestinal motility and physiologic gastric emptying. Recommendations against pre-anesthetic gum chewing do not withstand scrutiny and miss an opportunity to enhance comfort and sense of wellbeing for patients awaiting anesthesia. Gum chewing during the pre-anesthetic nil per os (NPO) period would also permit the development of gum-delivered premedications and should be permitted in children old enough to chew gum safely. Gum chewing should cease when sedatives are given and all patients should be instructed to remove any chewing gum from the mouth immediately prior to anesthetic induction.

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