Is It Necessary To Restrict Diet After Major Abdominal Surgery?

Albert B. Lowenfels, MD


Medscape General Surgery 

Randomized Clinical Trial of the Impact of Early Enteral Feeding on Postoperative Ileus and Recovery

Han-Geurts IJM, Hop WCJ, Hok NFM, et al.
Br J Surg. 2007;94:555-561


Is it necessary to restrict diet after major abdominal surgery? The authors performed a randomized controlled trial in patients (n = 128) undergoing either colorectal or abdominal vascular surgery. They compared free access to diet with a restricted food intake and only limited amounts of liquids allowed for the first several postoperative days. Although there was a nonsignificant increased requirement for nasogastric tube reinsertion in the free access diet group, there was no difference in duration of ileus. For the free-access group, solid foods were tolerated after 2 days, compared to 5 days in the restricted diet group.


Until recently, surgeons have been hesitant to allow patients to consume a free diet after abdominal surgery. The results of this study agree with an earlier systematic review, which concluded that there is little to be gained by restricting diets postoperatively.[1] The results imply that postoperative patients, when given the choice, are capable of determining what and how much food they should consume.



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