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  1. Wronski, Sofia MSN, CRNP, AGACNP-BC, CCRN


Background: Postoperative ileus (POI), a common postoperative complication, increases length of stay and costs. Although bowel rest and delayed oral intake were once thought to help prevent POI, newer evidence shows that chewing gum can be beneficial.


Methods-literature search: The literature was searched for the terms ileus, gum, chewing, and gum chewing for 2006 to 2013.


Study selection: All prospective randomized controlled trials comparing gum chewing in adults with a control treatment after abdominal surgery (except cesarean section) were included; an outcome measure was required as a dependent variable.


Findings: Seven primary research studies from around the world were gathered.


Results: Across all studies, patients in the gum-chewing experimental group both passed flatus and defecated before those in the non-gum-chewing control group. Where length of stay was studied, patients in all but one experimental group were in the hospital for less time.


Limitations: These included small sample sizes, lack of blinding in all but one study, differences in standards of care among hospitals and countries represented, unspecified types of gum, and variable timing and frequency of gum chewing among studies.


Discussion: Patients who chewed gum postoperatively had less POI, passed flatus sooner, had an earlier bowel movement and a shorter length of stay, and were more satisfied. Gum chewing is recommended as adjunctive therapy to reduce postoperative POI.