Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Int J Surg. 2009 Apr;7(2):100-5. doi: 10.1016/j.ijsu.2009.01.006. Epub 2009 Jan 31.

Gum chewing reduces postoperative ileus? A systematic review and meta-analysis.

Author information

Department of Colorectal Surgery, Derriford Hospital, Derriford Road, Plymouth, PL6 8DH, UK.



An important cause of delayed recovery from intestinal surgery is postoperative ileus. Gum chewing is a form of sham feeding, which could encourage gastrointestinal motility through cephalic-vagal stimulation.


We sought to identify all randomized controlled trials comparing gum chewing with standard care after elective intestinal surgery. We searched electronic databases (Cochrane, Embase, and PubMed), reference lists and contacted authors to obtain further data. We assessed the identified trials for quality and performed a meta-analysis and systematic review. The main outcome measures examined were time to flatus and stool postoperatively and length of hospital stay, which were analysed using random effect models. We also examined clinical complication rates.


We identified nine eligible trials that had enrolled a total of 437 patients. The intervention was well tolerated and complication rates were low. There was statistical evidence of heterogeneity for the three main outcomes. Pooled estimates showed a reduction in time to flatus by 14 h (95% CI: -20 to -8h, p=0.001), time to bowel movement by 23 h (95% CI: -32 to -15 h, p<0.001) and a reduction in length of hospital stay by 1.1 days (95% CI: -1.9 to -0.2 days, p=0.016).


Chewing sugarless gum following elective intestinal resection is associated with improved outcomes. Insufficient data were available to demonstrate a reduced rate of clinical complications or reduced cost. An adequately powered, methodologically rigorous trial of gum chewing is required to confirm if there are any benefits and if these result in differences in clinical outcomes such as infection.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Elsevier Science Icon for PubMed Health
    Loading ...
    Support Center