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  1. McAlee, Anita MSN, RN
  2. Allred, Jacqueline MSN, RN


Traditional feeding protocols withhold oral intake until the return of bowel function for concern of postoperative complications following elective colorectal surgery. Implementation of early feeding into clinical practice challenges this conventional approach. The purpose of this literature review is to analyze the current evidence and compare the impact of traditional versus early oral feeding protocols on postoperative outcomes following elective colorectal resection. A literature search of PubMed, EMBASE, CINAHL, and Scopus was conducted. Outcomes of interest include the resolution of postoperative ileus, the incidence of anastomotic leakage, and length of hospital stay. Patients assigned to early oral feeding began oral caloric intake within 24 hours of surgery, whereas oral intake was withheld until the resolution of postoperative ileus for patients in the traditional oral feeding group. Five trials met the inclusion criteria for this review. All studies reported on the primary outcomes of interest. A P value less than .05 was considered significant. Results indicate that early oral feeding following elective colorectal surgery did not extend the duration of postoperative ileus as evidenced by shorter time to first flatus and defecation, did not increase the incidence of anastomotic leakage, and demonstrated shorter length of hospital stay when compared with traditional management.