Ileus is a common challenge in adult surgical patients with estimated incidence to be 17% to 80%. The main mechanisms of the postoperative ileus pathophysiology are fluid overload, exogenous opioids, neurohormonal dysfunction, gastrointestinal stretch, and inflammation. Management includes addressing the underlying cause and supportive care. Multiple medical interventions have been proposed, but effectiveness is uncertain. A working group of the Eastern Association for the Surgery of Trauma aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of metoclopramide, erythromycin, and early enteral nutrition (EEN) on ileus in adult surgical patients and to develop recommendations applicable in a daily clinical practice.
Literature search identified 45 articles appropriate for inclusion. The Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation methodology was applied to evaluate the effect of metoclopramide, erythromycin, and EEN on the resolution of ileus in adult surgical patients based on selected outcomes: return of normal bowel function, attainment of enteral feeding goal, and hospital length of stay. The recommendations were made based on the results of a systematic review, a meta-analysis, and evaluation of levels of evidence.
The level of evidence for all PICOs was assessed as low. Neither metoclopramide nor erythromycin were effective in expediting the resolution of ileus. Analyses of 32 randomized controlled trials showed that EEN facilitates return of normal bowel function, achieving enteral nutrition goals, and reducing hospital length of stay.
In patients who have undergone abdominal surgery, we strongly recommend EEN to expedite resolution of Ileus, but we cannot recommend for or against the use of either metoclopramide or erythromycin to hasten the resolution of ileus in these patients.
LEVEL OF EVIDENCE
Type of Study Therapeutic, level II.