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Perioperative Bowel Habits of Women Undergoing Gynecologic Surgery: A Pilot Study

Tarr, Megan E. MD, MS; Klenov, Violet BS; Tanzy, Margaret E. MD; Rivard, Colleen L. MD; McElhinney, Margaret M. MD; Brubaker, Linda MD, MS; Mueller, Elizabeth R. MD; FitzGerald, Mary P. MD; Kenton, Kimberly MD, MS

Female Pelvic Medicine & Reconstructive Surgery: May/June 2012 - Volume 18 - Issue 3 - p 153–157
doi: 10.1097/SPV.0b013e3182517fd8
Original Articles

Objectives To describe perioperative bowel habits of women undergoing gynecologic surgery.

Methods This prospective cohort study included women undergoing gynecologic surgery. Before surgery, participants completed the Bristol Stool Form Scale (BSFS), a validated instrument describing stool characteristics consistent with transit categories: slow (BSFS 1–2), normal (BSFS 3–5), and fast (BSFS 6–7). For 2 weeks after surgery, the participants recorded daily medications and bowel movements (BM), and completed BSFS. The χ2 test, the Fisher exact test, analysis of variance, t tests, and ordinal regression were used.

Results Preoperatively, most (70%) of 340 women had normal stool transit, with 15% having slow transit and 7% having fast transit. Complete postoperative data were available for 170 (50%). Mean ± SD time to first postoperative BM was 2.8 ± 1.4 days with transit classification: 48% normal, 32% slow, and 20% fast.

Conclusions Most women had normal stool transit both preoperatively and postoperatively. Time to first BM was longer after open surgery by approximately 3 days.

The majority of women undergoing gynecologic surgeries for a variety of indications reported normal bowel transit in the immediate pre- and postoperative periods.

From the Division of Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery, Departments of Obstetrics/Gynecology and Urology, Stritch School of Medicine, Loyola University Chicago, Chicago, IL.

Reprints: Megan E. Tarr, MD, MS, Urogynecology and Pelvic Reconstructive Surgery, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Cleveland Clinic, 9500 Euclid Ave, A-81, Cleveland, OH 44195. E-mail:

Sources of Funding: ME Tarr: Intuitive Surgical, Inc., research funding, paid travel expenses. ER Mueller: Allergan, research funding; Laborie, development of educational presentations. MP FitzGerald: UpToDate, paid royalties. For the remaining authors, none were declared.

There was no source of funding for this project.

© 2012 by Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins