Purpose: Determine the safety and efficacy of early enteral feeding after distal elective bowel anastomoses (DEBA) in children. Methods: Controlled randomized trial including pediatric patients with DEBA, excluding non-elective and high risk patients. Variables: Demographics, operative time, anastomosis placement, beginning peristalsis and bowel movement, time to full diet intake, post-operative stay, persisting vomiting and abdominal distention, wound infection or dehiscence, anastomotic leak, reoperation, death. Randomization into: 1) Experimental group (EG): early feeding group, after a minimum 24 hours fasting period, oral fluids and diet was started; 2) Control group (CG): obligatory 5-day fasting. Descriptive Statistics: Student’s t test for quantitative and Chi square for qualitative variables, a p-value < 0.05 was considered significant. Results: 60 patients were included since June 2003 to May 2004, 30 ineach group. Mean age 2 years, weight16 kg, malnutrition 33%. Stomal Ethiology: Anorectal-malformation 46%, Hirschsprung 13%, inflammatory 35%, tumoral 5%. Mostly in colon 71%. Mean surgical time 142 min. None developed vomiting or required nasogastric-tube. Mild abdominal distension 13%, mild fever 16.5% and wound complications 18%. Anastomosis leakage 6.5%, none required reoperations. Demographic variables showed no statistical differences. Full oral intake was in the 2nd postoperative day in the EG vs CG (p = 0.001). Postoperative hospital stay was 6.0 ± 3 in the EG vs 9.8 ± 4 days in the CG with clinical but not statistical significance. Peristalsis beginning, first flatus passage and bowel movements showed no statistical differences. The complication incidence was low and equally distributed. Conclusions: Early feeding after DEBA is safe and well tolerated in children.
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