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Background: Postoperative ileus (POI) usually delays the postoperative recovery after open colectomy. Gum chewing may facilitate bowel motility through cephalic-vagal stimulation. Bowel sounds, the time to first postoperative flatus and defecation, the common nursing outcomes of bowel motility, has not been investigated in Thai patients. This study examines the effect of gum chewing on bowel motility in colorectal cancer patients after open colectomy.
Methods: A single blind randomized controlled trial was conducted with 32 patients in experimental and 32 patients in control groups. The experimental group chewed a piece of sugar-free gum with a fruity flavor for 20 minutes each time, three times a day starting from the first postoperative day till the date of first oral liquid received, while the control group receive routine care.
Results: The bowel sounds of the experimental group after chewing gum significantly increased more than those of the control group (p = 0.00). The time to the first postoperative flatus in the experimental group was significantly shorter than that in the control group; likewise the first postoperative defecation was also shorter (p = 0.04, p = 0.02, respectively).
Conclusion: Gum chewing is helpful in stimulating bowel motility measured by an increase in bowel sounds and in reduced times to first postoperative flatus and defecation. This nursing intervention may be used for stimulating bowel motility in patients with colorectal cancer after an open colectomy.
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