Is it Safe to Chew Gum Before Anesthesia?

According to a recent study highlighted in Gastroenterology & Endoscopy News, gum chewing immediately prior to anesthesia is probably safe.

Here’s an excerpt:

Patients who are fasting before upper endoscopy can safely chew gum up until the time of the procedure, researchers have found…

The prospective randomized controlled study evaluated the effect of gum chewing on volume and pH of gastric contents in 67 patients scheduled to receive IV conscious sedation for upper endoscopy. The night before the procedure, patients were randomly assigned to chew gum until the start of sedation…—or to not chew gum, with no limit on the number of pieces or how long they could chew.

The median volume suctioned from the gum chewers was 13 mL, compared with 6 mL for non-gum chewers. Similarly, gastric fluid also was greater for gum chewers—0.35 versus 0.11 mL/kg for patients who did not chew gum. “The 0.35 mL/kg is still under 0.4 mL/kg, which is where the risk for aspiration comes into effect,” he noted…The pH also did not change.

Take-home message: While this study provides some reassurance, I suspect that asking families to give nothing before an endoscopy will be easier than trying to explain the nuances and risks for aspiration.  For those who have only had gum, though, it may not be necessary to cancel their case.

From Atul Gawande's Twitter Feed

From Atul Gawande’s Twitter Feed

 

 

 

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