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Br J Surg. 2001 Dec;88(12):1578-82.

Randomized clinical trial of patient-controlled versus fixed regimen feeding after elective abdominal surgery.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, Erasmus University Medical Centre, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.



Although studies have shown that early oral feeding after abdominal surgery is feasible, many surgeons still advocate a careful, slow introduction of postoperative oral feeding. This study was conducted to investigate whether patient-controlled postoperative feeding is possible in patients undergoing colonic or aortic surgery.


A randomized clinical trial compared patient-controlled postoperative oral feeding (PC group) with a fixed regimen (FR group). Patients in the PC group (n = 56) received oral feeding when they requested it; patients in the FR group (n = 49) started a normal diet on day 5. Endpoints were time to tolerance of a diet similar to the preoperative diet, reinsertion of a nasogastric tube, complications and duration of hospitalization.


Median time to resumption of a normal diet was 3 days in the PC group and 5 days in the FR group (P < 0.001). Reinsertion of a nasogastric tube was required in nine patients in each group (P not significant). The incidence of complications was similar in both groups: 12 of 56 in the PC group and 13 of 49 in the FR group. There was no significant difference in duration of hospital stay between the groups.


Most patients tolerate a normal diet on the third day after operation. Patient-controlled postoperative feeding is safe and leads to earlier resumption of a normal diet.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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