1. Restarting the Stomach After Surgery

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    A major milestone in healing from intestinal surgery is the ability to pass food through the body. “From the stomach to the gall bladder to the intestine itself to the liver, any time you open the abdomen it gives you what is called the ileus. The ileus is when the intestine is not functioning normally after the surgery,” says Dr. Moutta Benmaamer, general surgeon with Lee Memorial Health System. The ileus refers to the duration that the digestive system is frozen. It can take two or three days before a patient has restored bowel function, and up to a week or more in some cases involving colon cancer- but the process must be achieved before a patient will be released from the hospital. “The problem with this intestinal surgery is when you put the patient to sleep the intestine goes to sleep too. The patient wakes up but the intestine goes to sleep,” says Benmaamer Anything that speeds up the digestive system is a welcome relief. To achieve this, some doctors are giving gum a go, using chewing gum in the hopes that the gum will restart, or stimulate gastrointestinal recovery. “Chewing gum is only a benefit. We do not have any complication that increases with chewing gum. So, we are very at ease giving it to people,” says Benaamer A new study found giving post-op patients gum four times a day cut the ileus from 51 hours to 43. In less invasive, laparoscopic procedures, downtime may be reduced by 20 hours. “We are trying everything to make sure the intestine is back to its normal function before we send the patient home,” says Benaamer Anything to get the digestive juices flowing that is inexpensive and tasty too! View More Health Matters video segments at leememorial.org/healthmatters/ Lee Memorial Health System in Fort Myers, FL is the largest network of medical care facilities in Southwest Florida and is highly respected for its expertise, innovation and quality of care. For nearly a century, we’ve been providing our community with everything from primary care treatment to highly specialized care services and robotic assisted surgeries. Visit leememorial.org

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    • Can Chewing Gum Speed Surgery Recovery?

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      With daily chatter about bubbles bursting, inflation and shrinking budgets- there’s one thing we can count on blowing up- chewing gum. It never seems to go out of style. “Whenever I’m playing soccer or whatever I like to chew it, it keeps me focused and takes the anxiety away,” says Anneila Guerra. Now surgeons are finding another, somewhat novel use for gum: it may help speed recovery after surgery involving the stomach, gallbladder, colon or liver. “The problem with this intestinal surgery is when you put the patient to sleep the intestine goes to sleep too. The patient wakes up but the intestine goes to sleep. So we are trying everything to make sure the intestine is back to normal function before we send the patient home,” says Dr. Moutta BenMaamer, general surgeon with Lee Memorial Health System. Doctors wait for a patient to have a bowel movement to be sure their intestines are working properly. That can takes days following major surgery. The theory is chewing gum shift’s their body back in drive. “I think stimulation of the mouth may be the reason for the intestine to start functioning again,” says Dr. BenMaamer. The period of time after abdominal surgery when the GI system is stagnant is called ileus. Researchers actually tested to see if this window is shortened when a patient chews gum and found in many cases, it is. “Any way to decrease that ileus would be good and chewing gum would be good. Because it doesn’t have any complications. If you find something that is soft, no complications why not? And it’s cheap,” says Dr. BenMaamer. There are no protocols about type, amount or frequency of gum use. But it’s long been used as a snappy substitute for food. “If you’re chewing, you wouldn’t be thinking of food or munching or snacks or anything, if you have something already in your mouth,” says Guerra. View More Health Matters video segments at leememorial.org/healthmatters/ Lee Memorial Health System in Fort Myers, FL is the largest network of medical care facilities in Southwest Florida and is highly respected for its expertise, innovation and quality of care. For nearly a century, we’ve been providing our community with everything from primary care treatment to highly specialized care services and robotic assisted surgeries. Visit leememorial.org

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