Does routine nasogastric tube placement after an operation for perforated appendicitis make a difference?

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DOI: 10.1016/j.jss.2007.04.009


BACKGROUND: Divergent opinions exist regarding the routine use of nasogastric (NG) tubes in the postoperative management of patients undergoing abdominal surgery. Empiric use of an NG tube after abdominal surgery is presumed to prevent abdominal distension, vomiting, and ileus, which may complicate the postoperative course. To investigate the validity of this assumption, we compared the postoperative course of patients who underwent appendectomy for perforated appendicitis who subsequently either had or did not have an NG tube placed postoperatively.

METHODS: A retrospective chart review of all children operated for perforated appendicitis between 1999 and 2004 was performed. Patients with prolonged hospitalizations were excluded to eliminate bias created by patients with multiple operations and opportunities for NG placement. The use of an NG tube, time to first and to full oral feeds, length of hospitalization, and complications were compared between groups.

RESULTS: Patients with NG tubes left in place (N = 105) were compared with those who did not receive an NG tube (N = 54) following appendectomy for perforated appendicitis. Mean time to first oral intake was 3.8 d in those with NG tubes compared with 2.2 d in those without NG tubes (P < 0.001). Similarly, mean time to full feeds was 4.9 d when an NG tube was left compared with 3.4 d in those without tubes (P < 0.001). Mean length of stay was 6.0 d in those with NG tubes compared to 5.6 d in those without (P = 0.002).

CONCLUSIONS: The use of NG decompression after an operation for perforated appendicitis does not appear to improve the postoperative course and we recommend that it is not routinely used in this patient population.

Journal Title

The Journal of surgical research





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MeSH Keywords

Appendectomy; Appendicitis; Child; Female; Humans; Intubation, Gastrointestinal; Length of Stay; Male; Postoperative Complications; Retrospective Studies; Treatment Outcome


Appendectomy; Intubation

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