Coffee consumption activates bowel motility after elective colonic surgery

Published on October 9, 2012 at 7:03 AM · No Comments

Patients who drank coffee, rather than water, after bowel surgery to remove a part of their colon experienced a quicker return to bowel movements and tolerance of solid food.

Those are two of the key findings of a comparative study of 80 patients, carried out at University Hospital Heidelberg, Germany, and published in the surgical journal BJS.

"Post-operative bowel obstruction is a common problem after abdominal surgery and the aim of this study was to test our theory that coffee would help to alleviate this" says lead author Dr Sascha Müller, who is now based at Kantonsspital St Gallen, Switzerland.   

The 80 patients were randomised into coffee and water groups before their operation, with one patient in the water arm subsequently excluded due to a change in their surgical procedure.

Patient characteristics were similar in both groups. Their average age was 61 years and 56 per cent were male.

Just over half (56 per cent) had colonic cancer, 28 per cent had diverticular disease (a structural problem with the wall of their colon), 13 per cent had inflammatory bowel disease and four per cent had other conditions. The majority had open surgery (61 per cent) and the remainder had laparoscopic surgery.

The patients were given 100mls of coffee or water three times a day. 

Key findings were:

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