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Dig Surg. 2008;25(1):39-45. doi: 10.1159/000117822. Epub 2008 Feb 21.

A systematic review of the efficacy of gum chewing for the amelioration of postoperative ileus.

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  • 1Academic Medical Center of the University of Amsterdam, Hilversum, The Netherlands.



Recent trials have shown promising results for the efficacy of gum chewing for the amelioration of postoperative ileus. This finding could have a major clinical impact since gum chewing is relatively harmless and cheap while postoperative ileus has a significant impact on healthcare.


Systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials comparing the efficacy of gum chewing after colorectal surgery to a standard control for the amelioration of postoperative ileus, expressed as time to flatus, time to defecation and overall hospital stay.


Five randomized controlled trials with a total number of 158 patients were found. The studies were homogeneous and a meta-analysis was performed. The pooled weighted mean difference (WMD) of time to flatus was significantly shorter for the gum-chewing group (20 h with a 95% confidence interval (CI) of 13-27). The pooled WMD of time to defecation was significantly shorter (29 h, 95% CI of 19-39). There was a non-significant trend towards a shorter postoperative hospital stay (1.3 days shorter, 95% CI of 3.2 days shorter to 0.6 days longer).


This meta-analysis shows a favorable effect of gum chewing on time to flatus and defecation but no significant effect on the hospital stay.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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