The researchers determined the effect of salt and water balance on recovery of gastrointestinal function after elective colonic resection in human beings.
The findings of the study were published in the latest issue of the Lancet.
Some 20 patients, with no disease other than colonic cancer, were enrolled in the trial.
The investigators randomly allocated the individuals to receive either postoperative intravenous fluids in accordance with present hospital practice (≥ 3 L water and 154 mmol sodium per day, n = 10) or a restricted intake (≤ 2 L water and 77 mmol sodium per day, n = 10).
The primary endpoint was solid and liquid-phase gastric emptying time, measured by dual isotope radionuclide scintigraphy on the fourth postoperative day.
Secondary endpoints included time to first bowel movement and length of postoperative hospital stay.
| Restriction of IV fluids after resection reduces hospital stay.
Median solid and liquid phase gastric emptying times (T50) on the fourth postoperative day were significantly longer in the standard group than in the restricted group (175 vs 73 min and 110 vs 74 min, respectively).
Median passage of flatus was 1 day later (4 vs 3 days) in the standard group than in the restricted group.
Median passage of stool was 2·5 days later (6·5 vs 4 days), and median postoperative hospital stay 3 days longer (9 vs 6 days).
One patient in the restricted group developed hypokalemia. Some 7 patients in the standard group had side effects or complications.
Author Dileep N Lobo, of the University Hospital, Nottingham, concluded on behalf of the group, "Positive salt and water balance, sufficient to cause a 3 kg weight gain after surgery, delays return of gastrointestinal function and prolongs hospital stay in patients undergoing elective colonic resection."