Background: Although studies have shown that early oral feeding after abdominal surgery is feasible, many surgeons still advocate a careful, slow introduction of postoperative oral feeding. This study was conducted to investigate whether patient-controlled postoperative feeding is possible in patients undergoing colonic or aortic surgery. Methods: A randomized clinical trial compared patient-controlled postoperative oral feeding (PC group) with a fixed regimen (FR group). Patients in the PC group (n = 56) received oral feeding when they requested it; patients in the FR group (n = 49) started a normal diet on day 5. Endpoints were time to tolerance of a diet similar to the preoperative diet, reinsertion of a nasogastric tube, complications and duration of hospitalization. Results: Median time to resumption of a normal diet was 3 days in the PC group and 5 days in the FR group (P < 0.001). Reinsertion of a nasogastric tube was required in nine patients in each group (P not significant). The incidence of complications was similar in both groups: 12 of 56 in the PC group and 13 of 49 in the FR group. There was no significant difference in duration of hospital stay between the groups. Conclusion: Most patients tolerate a normal diet on the third day after operation. Patient-controlled postoperative feeding is safe and leads to earlier resumption of a normal diet.,
British Journal of Surgery
Department of Surgery

Han-Geurts, I., Jeekel, H., Tilanus, H., & Brouwer, K. (2001). Randomized clinical trial of patient-controlled versus fixed regimen feeding after elective abdominal surgery. British Journal of Surgery, 88(12), 1578–1582. doi:10.1046/j.0007-1323.2001.01934.x