The Efficacy of Gum Chewing in Reducing Postoperative Ileus: A Multisite Randomized Controlled Trial

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PURPOSE:The purpose of this prospective, attention-controlled, randomized study was to determine whether postoperative gum chewing reduces the duration of postoperative ileus symptoms following elective open or laparoscopic sigmoid colectomy when compared with standard care or an attention-control intervention.SUBJECTS AND SETTINGS:Forty-seven subjects scheduled for either an open or laparoscopic colon resection participated in the study. Subjects were recruited preoperatively at the preadmission learning centers of the 2 acute care medical centers that comprised the study settings.METHODS:Subjects were randomized to 3 groups: (1) standard postoperative care (n = 18); (2) standard care and a silicone-adhesive patch applied to the deltoid region of the upper arm as an attention control (n = 16); and (3) standard care and gum chewing (n = 13). Standard postoperative care included removal of the nasogastric tube, early ambulation, nothing by mouth with ice chips only until the first passage of flatus, and then advancement of diet until tolerance of solid food.RESULTS:No statistically significant differences were found among the 3 study groups for the 4 postoperative outcome variables measured: (1) first passage of flatus; (2) first bowel movement; (3) return of hunger; and (4) ability to tolerate solid food for one meal.CONCLUSION:Postoperative gum chewing was not found to be more effective than standard postoperative care or our attention-control intervention in reducing the duration of postoperative ileus symptoms, length of stay, or complications among patients following open/laparoscopic sigmoid colectomy.

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