A randomized controlled trial of postoperative nasogastric tube decompression in gynecologic oncology patients undergoing intra-abdominal surgery.
OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the effect of nasogastric decompression after extensive intra-abdominal surgery in gynecologic oncology patients. METHODS: Over a 1-year period, 110 gynecologic oncology patients undergoing extensive intra-abdominal surgery were enrolled in a randomized controlled trial of postoperative nasogastric tube versus intra-operative orogastric tube decompression. RESULTS: The nasogastric and orogastric groups were similar in age, case distribution, surgery length, and blood loss. The nasogastric group had significantly longer times to first passage of flatus and tolerance of a clear liquid diet than did the orogastric group. However, both groups were similar in time to tolerance of a regular diet and hospital stay. On average, the nasogastric tube was maintained for 3.2 +/- 2.1 days (range 1-8) after surgery. The average daily nasogastric output was 440 +/- 283 mL (range 68-1565). No patient in the orogastric group required a nasogastric tube postoperatively, but one patient in the nasogastric group had a nasogastric tube reinserted for recurrent nausea and vomiting. Use of a nasogastric tube led to significantly more subjective complaints, eg, ear pain, painful swallowing, and nasal soreness, but did not significantly reduce the incidence of abdominal distention or nausea and vomiting. Major complications, eg, pneumonia, atelectasis, gastrointestinal bleeding, and wound breakdown or infection, occurred equally in both groups. However, the incidence of febrile morbidity was significantly greater in the nasogastric group. There were no known anastamotic complications or aspirations in either group. Postoperative changes in hematological indices and electrolytes were comparable in both groups. CONCLUSION: Postoperative nasogastric tube decompression in gynecologic oncology patients undergoing extensive intra-abdominal surgery does not appear to provide any substantial benefit but significantly increases patient discomfort. As a result of this study, we have eliminated postoperative nasogastric decompression except in highly selected circumstances, such as extensive bowel surgery in patients with prior irradiation or substantial edema from bowel obstruction.
Pearl, ML; Valea, FA; Fischer, M; Chalas, E
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