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No Need to Flush Bowels Before Surgery

Study says mechanical bowel preparation not needed before colorectal procedures

THURSDAY, Oct. 23, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- Mechanical bowel cleansing before colorectal surgery does not significantly reduce the risk of anastomic leakage or other complications, says a study in the journal The Cochrane Library.

Doctors have long believed that mechanical bowel cleansing to clear fecal matter was an essential preventative measure before colorectal surgery to greatly reduce the risk of infection, anastomic leakage and other problems.

In this study, researchers reviewed six studies from the past 30 years that examined the relationship between mechanical bowel and colorectal surgery patient complications and deaths.

The new study found that mechanical bowel cleansing had no significant positive effect on morbidity or mortality. In fact, the researchers concluded that the use of mechanical bowel cleansing actually increases the risk of anastomotic leakage.

"The hypothesis that fecal matter in the bowel led to complications after surgery stood for over a century before we arrived at this conclusion to the contrary," study co-author Dr. Peer Wille-Jorgensen says in a prepared statement.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about colon and rectal surgery.

SOURCE: John Wiley & Sons Inc., news release, Oct. 20, 2003
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