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J Perianesth Nurs. 2006 Apr;21(2A Suppl):S2-6.

The surgical team and outcomes management: focus on postoperative ileus.

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University of California San Diego Medical Center-Thornton Hospital, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA.


Postoperative ileus (POI) is defined as the impairment of bowel motility that occurs almost universally after major open abdominal procedures, as well as other abdominal and nonabdominal procedures. For the majority of affected patients, POI generally lasts approximately three to five days, but longer duration is not uncommon. The causes of POI are multifactorial, but can be broadly categorized into two groups: those related to the surgical procedure and those related to pharmacologic interventions (opioids). The fact that POI is generally transient and therefore self-limited should not deter the surgical team from seeking improved ways to mitigate its associated adverse effects, which can be substantial and immensely uncomfortable for the patient, and can have far-reaching implications regarding overall hospitalization costs for many types of surgeries. Optimization of POI management and prevention efforts is a responsibility of all members of the surgical team and can drastically affect the overall clinical outcome of major abdominal surgery. Depending on the individual team member's role, different perspectives and strategies may be used to achieve improved outcomes, including but not limited to hospitalization costs related to care and length of stay, resource utilization, and, perhaps most critically, patient quality of life not only immediately after surgery but also after discharge. The ability to reliably and significantly decrease the duration of POI should be readily recognized as an important objective in the management of this condition. Opioids will continue to be a mainstay of postoperative care regimens, but new agents such as peripherally acting mu-opioid-receptor antagonists may offer a unique clinical advantage by helping to reduce the adverse gastrointestinal effects of opioids while preserving their desired benefits for postoperative analgesia.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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