Chewing gum aids bowel recovery after colon surgery

Washington, Aug 19 : Just three sticks of chewing gum a day can speed up bowel recovery after colon surgery, says a new study led by Indian origin scientist.

The team led by Sanjay Purkayastha, B. Sc., M. R. C. S., at St. Mary''s Hospital, London, have found that chewing gum leads to enhanced recovery of intestinal function following surgery to remove all or part of the colon.

"Postoperative ileus [inability of the intestines to pass contents] is regarded as an inevitable response to the trauma of abdominal surgery and is a major contributing factor to postoperative pain and discomfort associated with abdominal distension, nausea, vomiting and cramping pain," the authors write.

Purkayastha and colleagues analyzed data from five trials published in or before July 2006 and involving 158 patients.

In each trial, a group of patients chewed sugarless gum three times per day following surgery for a period of five to 45 minutes and were compared with patients who did not chew gum.

They found that patients who chewed gum took an average of .66 fewer days to pass flatus (gas) and an average of 1.10 fewer days to have a bowel movement, both signs of returning intestinal function.

"Postoperative length of hospital stay was assessed in four trials comprising 134 patients," the authors write.

"This was also reduced in the chewing gum group by longer than one day; however, this result was not statistically significant.

"In conclusion, we feel that the current evidence suggests that gum chewing following abdominal surgery offers significant benefits in reducing the time to resolution of ileus,” they added. 

The study appears in August issue of Archives of Surgery, one of the JAMA/Archives journals. (ANI)