Objective: To evaluate the feasibility, safety, and tolerance of early feeding in patients undergoing surgery for gynecologic malignancies.
Methods: Patients were stratified according to operative time and type of tumor and were randomized into two arms: A) early oral feeding and B) nasogastric decompression followed by feeding at the first passage of flatus. Variables assessed included nausea, vomiting, time to first passage of flatus and stool, time elapsed before adequate tolerance of a regular diet, postoperative stay, and complications.
Results: Sixty-one patients were randomized into each arm. The types of tumor, the surgical procedures performed, and the operative times were similar in both groups. Early oral feeding in patients in arm A was associated with a significantly faster resolution of postoperative ileus (P < .01), with a more rapid return to a regular diet (P < .01), with an earlier first passage of stool (P < .01), and with a shorter postoperative stay (P < .05) than patients in arm B. Rates of nausea and vomiting were similar in both arms. Hindered deglutition and nasal soreness caused by the nasogastric tube were observed in 88% of patients in arm B. Insertion of a nasogastric tube was necessary in six patients in arm A (10%), and three of these had postoperative complications. Thus, early feeding was feasible in 95% of patients and did not seem to be related to preoperative chemotherapy, tumor type, or lymphadenectomy.
Conclusion: Early feeding is feasible and well tolerated and is associated with reduced postoperative discomfort and a more rapid recovery in patients undergoing major surgery for gynecologic malignancies.