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Int J Colorectal Dis. 1996;11(3):119-21.

Is early postoperative feeding feasible in elective colon and rectal surgery?

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  • 1Surgical Department, Virgen del Camino Hospital, Pamplona, Spain.


In reports on earlier non-prospectively randomized trials the authors have claimed that early oral postoperative feeding is a unique benefit of laparoscopic surgery. On the other hand, some authors have suggested that early feeding could be tolerated by the majority of patients after elective open surgery.


This prospective randomized study was undertaken to assess the feasibility and safety of immediate oral feeding in patients subjected to elective open colorectal surgery.


This trial included 190 patients who underwent an elective colon or rectal operation. Patients were randomized after the operative procedure into one of two groups. Group I (n = 95): On the first evening after the operation, patients were allowed ab libitum intake of clear liquids; this continued until the first postoperative day at which time they progressed to a regular diet as desired. Group II (n = 95): In this group the nasogastric tube was removed when the surgeon considered that postoperative ileus had been resolved.


Early oral intake was tolerated by 79.6% of the patients in the first 4 days in group I; there were no differences between the two groups from the 4th day on. The incidence of vomiting and nasogastric tube insertion (21.5%) was higher in patients in group I than in those in group II. The time until the first bowel movement was 4.3 days in group I and 4.7 days in group II. Complications appeared in 17.3% of the patients in group I and in 19.3% in group II.


This study has objectively demonstrated that early oral feeding is feasible and safe in patients who have elective colorectal surgery.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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