Chewing gum for 1 h does not change gastric volume in healthy fasting subjects. A prospective observational study


Valencia et al present a prospective observational study that is relevant for anaesthetists managing adolescent patients. They examined the impact on gastric volume of chewing gum for 1 hr in an otherwise fasted well adult. It is a simple but well designed and well described study, with each subject being their own control. A validated ultrasound technique was used to quantify gastric contents before and at 0, 1 and 2 hrs after chewing gum continuously for an hour. Baseline results agree with what is already known about this population from the literature, namely approximately 80% have no appreciable gastric volume when fasted. At each subsequent examination, the gastric volume was unchanged in all patients. The primary limitation of this study is the inclusion of well patients only, and as such these results may not apply to patients in whom gastric emptying may be altered.

Take home message

Although this is a study in adults, it may be interesting to anaesthetists managing adolescent patients. This study demonstrates that gastric volume is unaffected by chewing gum in fasted well patients. While there is no consensus on this among fasting guidelines, it may be safe to proceed with surgery in a well fasted patient who has chewed gum prior to surgery.

Reviewed by Sebastian Corlette