(HealthDay News) – For patients who undergo gynecologic laparoscopic surgery, postoperative gum chewing has positive effects on bowel motility, according to a study published in the July issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Heinrich Husslein, MD, from Klinikum Klagenfurt am Woerthersee in Austria, and colleagues conducted a randomized controlled trial in which 179 patients who underwent laparoscopic gynecologic surgery were allocated to postoperative chewing gum every two hours for 15 minutes or standard postoperative care without chewing gum.

The researchers found that the interval between surgery and passage of first flatus was significantly shorter in the intervention group vs. the control group (median, 6.2 vs. 8.1 hours). In the intervention group there was a significantly higher rate of regular bowel sounds three hours (76% vs. 47%) and five hours (91% vs. 78%) after surgery. Patients in the intervention group had significantly fewer opioid analgesics administered. There was no significant difference between the groups in time to first defecation. No intervention-related side effects were noted, and gum chewing was well tolerated and accepted by patients.

“Postoperative gum chewing enhances return of regular bowel motility after gynecologic laparoscopic surgery,” the authors write. “Gum chewing seems to have beneficial effects when used as an adjunct treatment in postoperative care. Therefore, postoperative gum chewing should be recommended to patients after gynecologic laparoscopic surgery.”

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