Purpose: This multicenter, randomized controlled study evaluates the safety of early oral feeding following gastrectomy, and its effect on the length of postoperative hospital stay. Methods: The subjects of this study were patients who underwent distal gastrectomy (DG) or total gastrectomy (TG) for gastric cancer between January 2014 and December 2015. Patients were randomly assigned to the early oral feeding group (intervention group) or the conventional postoperative management group (control group) for each procedure. We evaluated the length of postoperative hospital stay and the incidence of postoperative complications in each group. Results: No significant differences in length of postoperative stay were found between the intervention and control groups of the patients who underwent DG. The incidence of postoperative complications was significantly greater in the DG intervention group. In contrast, the length of postoperative stay was significantly shorter in the TG intervention group, although the TG group did not attain the established target sample size. Conclusion: Early oral feeding did not shorten the postoperative hospital stay after DG. The higher incidence of postoperative complications precluded the unselected adoption of early oral feeding for DG patients. Further confirmative studies are required to definitively establish the potential benefits of early oral feeding for TG patients.
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