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Forum Name: Surgery Topics

Question: How is the bowel put to sleep?

 in the suburbs - Mon Sep 03, 2007 8:32 am

I had gallbladder surgery. The nurse afterwards told me they had put the bowel to sleep. How is that done?
 Dr. Chan Lowe - Mon Sep 03, 2007 6:30 pm

User avatar Hi In the suburbs,

It is a little bit of a misnomer to say the "put the bowel to sleep". What happens, basically, is that any time the bowel is manipulated (such as during surgery in the abdomen) it slows down and occasionally stops its normal contractions (called peristalsis). This slowing and stopping is termed an ileus.

The bowel will "wake up" and begin moving again in due time. It may be fast (a few hours after surgery) or it may take a few days for this to happen. This is why surgeons often do not allow a person to eat right after abdominal surgery. They wait until the bowel starts moving again first to prevent nausea and vomiting.

Best wishes.


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