Source:

Seng SS, et al. Abstract Session. Presented at: Society of Thoracic Surgeons Perioperative and Critical Care Conference; Sept. 10-11, 2021 (virtual meeting).

Disclosures: Seng reports no relevant financial disclosures.
September 21, 2021
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Chewing gum after cardiac surgery may aid gut function

Source:

Seng SS, et al. Abstract Session. Presented at: Society of Thoracic Surgeons Perioperative and Critical Care Conference; Sept. 10-11, 2021 (virtual meeting).

Disclosures: Seng reports no relevant financial disclosures.
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Chewing gum may aid in accelerating gut function among patients who received cardiac surgery, according to new data presented at the virtual Society of Thoracic Surgeons Perioperative and Critical Care Conference.

“Prior to our study, there was no previously published studies looking at the use of chewing gum in cardiac surgery patients, but we found that it may accelerate the return of gut function,” Sirivan S. Seng, MD, resident physician at Crozer-Chester Medical Center, Upland, Pennsylvania, said in a press release from STS. “This easy-to-implement intervention can be used with almost all patients in the postoperative setting.”

Operating room surgery
Source: Adobe Stock

The researchers hypothesized chewing gum would stimulate the digestive system through mimicking food consumption when food and drink are not actually digested, preventing ileus.

Seng and colleagues enrolled 341 patients from Crozer-Chester Medical Center in the first group who received elective open-heart surgery, aortic valve replacement or mitral valve repair/replacement from 2017 to 2020. These patients initiated the sugarless chewing gum protocol after cardiac surgery. The second group included 496 patients who received similar heart surgeries from 2013 to 2016 who did not initiate the sugarless chewing gum protocol. All patients were mobilized on the first day after surgery and initiated an enteral diet.

In total, 72 patients were extubated 6 hours after surgery and 99% were extubated within 24 hours after surgery. There were only two patients (0.59%) in the first group who experienced postoperative ileus compared with 17 patients (3.43%) in the second group (P = .007).

Researchers observed no complications associated with the sugarless chewing gum protocol after cardiac surgery among patients in the first group.

According to Seng, the shutdown of gut function is common after cardiac surgery, with 5.5% of patients experiencing the complication. Ileus can lead to abdominal cramps, bloating, nausea, vomiting, constipation and difficulty tolerating normal diets, which can lead to patients experiencing discomfort, slow recovery and longer hospitalizations that may increase the physical, emotional and financial burden on patients, Seng said.

“Given the minimal risk and extremely trivial cost of the intervention, the incorporation of chewing gum following cardiac surgery should be strongly considered as a new standard of care,” Seng said in the release.

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