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Gastrointestinal Function Following Surgery
  1. Walter S. Nimmo, MD, MRCP, FFARCS
  1. From the Department of Anaesthesia, Western Infirmary, Glasgow, Scotland.


Many factors are known to influence the rate of gastric emptying and gastrointestinal transit in the early postoperative period. These factors include posture, food, volume and composition of any fluid swallowed, as well as disease and any drugs used during anesthesia or to relieve postoperative pain. Using the rate of drug absorption as an indirect index of the rate of gastric emptying, it appears that narcotic analgesics given to relieve pain constitute the most significant factor in delaying gastric emptying and gastrointestinal transit after surgery. Patients with extradural analgesia after hysterectomy have significantly faster gastric emptying than patients receiving narcotic analgesics. Therefore, to obtain maximum benefit from extradural analgesia established during surgery, it should be continued well into the postoperative period.

  • Gastric emptying
  • Gastrointestinal transit
  • Surgery
  • abdominal
  • Analgesia
  • postoperative
  • extradural

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