Background: To date, early oral feeding after gastrectomy for gastric cancer has not been accepted universally. Therefore, we performed a randomized clinical trial to determine whether early oral feeding after curative surgery for gastric cancer can be tolerated and whether it has an effect on recovery.
Methods: From July 2008 to February 2009, 58 patients were enrolled and 4 were excluded according to set criteria. The patients in the early feeding group began a liquid diet on the second postoperative day, and then were fed a soft diet from the third day until the day they were discharged. The patients in the control group began a liquid diet on the fourth day. The primary endpoint of this study was the duration of postoperative hospitalization.
Results: No significant differences were found in the clinico-operative characteristics between the 2 groups. The duration of hospitalization (P = .044) and time until flatus (P = .036) in the early group were decreased significantly. With regard to the rates of morbidity, cost of hospitalization, postoperative symptoms, and pain scales, no significant differences were found. The quality of life scores were decreased significantly at the fatigue (P = .007) and nausea and vomiting (P = .048) immediately after operation in the early feeding group.
Conclusion: Early oral feeding after gastric cancer surgery is feasible and can result in shorter hospitalization and improvements in several aspects of quality of life in the early postoperative period.
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