Gum chewing as a strategy to reduce the duration of postoperative ileus

Lafon, Caroline; Lawson, Lauren
April 2012
Gastrointestinal Nursing;Apr2012, Vol. 10 Issue 3, p17
Academic Journal
Postoperative ileus is a common complication following surgery. Many pharmacological agents and surgical techniques have been proposed to influence the severity and duration of an ileus; however, no individual method has been shown to successfully influence its clinical course. Often, these techniques are used in combination to create a 'fast-track' recovery program. Current research has proposed gum chewing as a form of sham feeding that can be used as an alterative to early oral feedings. In this article, Caroline Lafon and Dr Lauren Lawson will review recent randomized controlled trials and meta-analyses studying the effects of gum chewing on gastrointestinal motility. Research suggests that gum chewing is a safe and cost-effective method that acts by stimulating the cephalic-vagal system, triggering the release of gastrointestinal hormones and juices, increasing salivation and pancreatic juice release, and ultimately promoting the return of normal bowel function. Gum chewing can be used as a component in a fast-track recovery program to reduce the duration of postoperative ileus and thereby reduce hospital length of stay and hospital costs.


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