Xiao-qin Liao, Sai-lan Li, Yan-chun Peng, Liang-wan Chen, Yan-juan Lin

July 2022, pp 1 - 11 Review Article Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-022-07304-w

First Online: 19 July 2022


There are conflicting opinions regarding the efficacy of chewing gum for the recovery of gastrointestinal function in patients following spinal surgery. Thus, we aimed to conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis of existing articles to evaluate the effect of gum-chewing on patients following spinal surgery.


A computer search was used to identify randomised controlled trials (RCTs) involving gum-chewing from eight databases: Cochrane Library, PubMed, Embase, MEDLINE, Web of Science, China National Knowledge Infrastructure, China Science and Technology Journal Database, and WanFang Data. After evaluating the risk of bias for the included studies, we used the Revman 5.3 software to conduct a meta-analysis of the data.


The study included seven RCTs, with a total of 706 patients. The meta-analysis reported that gum-chewing could shorten the interval between surgery and first bowel movement (mean deviation [MD] = − 23.02; 95% confidence interval [CI]: − 24.67, − 21.38; P < 0.00001), first flatus (MD = − 1.54; 95% CI − 2.48, − 0.60; P = 0.001), and first bowel sounds (MD = − 5.08; 95% CI − 6.02, − 4.15; P < 0.00001). Moreover, there was a significant reduction in postoperative analgesic dosage within 12 h (standardised mean difference [SMD] = − 0.28; 95% CI − 0.52, − 0.05; P = 0.02). However, there were no significant differences between the chewing gum and control groups (P > 0.05) regarding the postoperative nausea score, abdominal pain score, 24- and 48-h analgesic drug dosage, and length of hospital stay.


To a certain extent, masticating gum can promote the recovery of gastrointestinal function and reduce the need for postoperative analgesics in patients following spinal surgery. However, this conclusion is affected by the quantity and quality of the included articles. Therefore, additional high-quality studies are needed to verify these results.

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