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Post-operative ileus in elderly patients

Background and aim

Postoperative ileus is an abnormal pattern of gastrointestinal motility that is common after both abdominal and nonabdominal surgery. Aim of this study was to evaluate the incidence of postoperative ileus in elderly patients of age ≥ 70 years.

Materials and methods

Data collected from 20 patients undergoing right hemicolectomy for right bowel cancer were evaluated. Patients included were divided in two groups of 10 subjects respectively, according their age. In the first group were allocated patients of age ≥ 70 years, whereas in the second group were included subjects of age ≤ 60 years. Patients affected by postoperative delirium or presenting complications that could altered the regain of intestinal motility were excluded. The time of first passage of flatus, the time of first defecation and the postoperative stay were evaluated.


The two groups of patients resulted similar for sex, comorbidity, previous surgical abdominal history, stage of tumor, duration of operation and postoperative pain. The first passage of flatus was detected after 72 ± 9 hours in the patients of first group and after 48 ± 12 hours in the subjects of second group (p < 0.0001). The first defecation occurred after 76 ± 10 hours in the patients of first group and after 55 ± 12 hours in those of second group (p < 0.01). Postoperative stay was 8.0 ± 2.7 days in the first group of patients and 7.2 ± 3.0 days in the second group (p < 0.05).


Data collected from our study showed that the elderly patients have a more prolonged postoperative intestinal adynamia. This finding could be explained with the more intense acute inflammatory response observed in these patients.

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Open Access This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( ), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Patti, R., Picone, E., Aiello, P. et al. Post-operative ileus in elderly patients. BMC Geriatr 9 (Suppl 1), A74 (2009).

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