Postoperative ileus is common after colorectal resection and can prolong hospital stay.
Gum chewing, a type of sham feeding, may to stimulate gut motility via cephalic-vagal stimulation, and thereby reduce the length of ileus.
Dr Andrew Maw and colleagues from England evaluated the effects of chewing gum and the recovery from ileus.
The research team assessed the immediate postoperative period following resection for left-sided colorectal cancer.
The team conducted a prospective randomized control trial in 38 patients undergoing open surgery for left-sided colorectal cancer.
| Hospital stay was 11 days in the control group vs 9 days in the treatment group|
There were 19 patients allocated to standard postoperative care in the control group.
A further 19 patients were allocated to standard postoperative care plus the immediate use of chewing gum in the treatment group.
Control patients passed flatus by mean of 3 days and feces by 4.
The team found that for the treatment group, the mean time for passing both flatus and feces was 3 days.
Length of hospital stay was 11 days in the control group and 9 days in the treatment group.
Dr Maw's team concluded, “The addition of gum chewing to a standardized postoperative regimen did not reduce the period of postoperative ileus or shorten length of stay following open surgery for left-sided colorectal cancer.”