In a community hospital study reported in the February 2006 Archives of Surgery , patients who chewed gum for an hour three times a day after open abdominal surgery to resect their sigmoid colons, recovered bowel function faster and spent less time in the hospital. Patients had surgery because of cancer or diverticulitis.
After surgery 34 patients were randomly assigned either to chew sugarless gum or be part of a control group that did not chew gum. Results showed average times to key events in recovery were:
- Time to first flatus (passing gas) in chewers was 65.4 hours versus 80.2 hours in the control group.
- First bowel movement occurred at 63.2 hours vs. 88.4 hours.
- First feelings of hunger were at 63.5 hours vs. 72.8 hours.
- Total length of hospital stay was 4.3 days vs. 6.8 days.
The research team from the Department of Surgery at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara, CA concluded:
Gum chewing speeds recovery after elective open sigmoid resection by stimulating bowel motility. Gum chewing is an inexpensive and helpful adjunct to postoperative care after colectomy.
A previous study reported here on C3 News and Events found that gum chewing helped patients who had laparoscopic colon surgery but did not improve recovery time for those who had open colectomy. In that study patients chewed a stick of gum for 15 minutes four times a day.
Media reports of the Archives of Surgery study include: