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Colorectal Dis. 2013 Jul;15(7):885-91. doi: 10.1111/codi.12168.

A randomized controlled trial comparing a standard postoperative diet with low-volume high-calorie oral supplements following colorectal surgery.

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Department of Colorectal Surgery, Newcastle Surgical Training Centre, Freeman Hospital NHS Trust, Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK.



Postoperative oral nutritional supplementation is becoming a part of most patient care pathways. This study examined the effects of low-volume high-calorie prescribed supplemental nutrition on patient outcome following elective colorectal surgery.


Patients undergoing elective colorectal resections were randomized to a prescribed nutritional supplementation group (SG) [standard diet + 6 × 60 ml/day of Pro-Cal (60 ml = 200 kcal + 4 g protein)] or conventional postoperative diet group (CG) (standard diet alone). Preoperative and daily postoperative hand-grip strengths were measured using a grip dynamometer after randomization. Daily food intake, return of bowel activity, nausea score for the first 3 days and postoperative length of hospital stay (LOS) were prospectively recorded. Micro-diet standardized software was used to analyse food diaries. Nonparametric tests were used to analyse the data.


Fifty-five patients were analysed (SG 28, CG 27). There was no difference in median preoperative and postoperative handgrip strengths at discharge within each group (SG 31.7 vs 31.7 kPa, P = 0.932; CG 28 vs 28.1 kPa, P = 0.374). The total median daily calorie intake was higher in SG than CG (SG 818.5 kcal vs CG 528 kcal; P = 0.002). There was no difference in median number of days to first bowel movement (SG 3 days vs CG 4 days, P = 0.096). The median LOS was significantly shorter in SG than CG (6.5 vs 9 days; P = 0.037).


Prescribed postoperative high-calorie, low-volume oral supplements in addition to the normal dietary intake are associated with significantly better total daily oral calorie intake and may contribute to a reduced postoperative hospital stay.


Nutrition; colorectal; recovery; supplements

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