It's common for doctors to recommend that patients stay away from solid foods for several days and then slowly work back up to a normal diet after stomach surgery. But a new study found that starting to eat a normal diet of solid foods after such surgery appears safe, and may even cut the length of a patient's hospital stay.
Researchers from the University of Alberta in Edmonton studied 96 patients who underwent major abdominal gynecologic surgery. Forty-nine of the patients were given the traditional postoperative routine (no food until bowel function returned) followed by a slow advancement to a diet of solid food. A separate group of 47 patients were put on an "early" postoperative feeding regimen, which consisted of clear liquids on the first day after the surgery, followed by a regular diet.
Patients in the early feeding group had a shorter hospital stay, with half staying in the hospital for four days or longer, compared to the traditional feeding group, among whom half stayed in the hospital for six days or longer. Moreover, there were no differences between the two groups in the incidence of postoperative complications, including vomiting and intestinal obstruction.
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