Researchers from Switzerland who evaluated the effect of standardised coffee intake on post-operative bowel movement after elective laparoscopic colorectal resection, have reported that patients in the coffee group had faster recovery of bowel function. The key finding of the study, 'Does Coffee Intake Reduce Postoperative Ileus After Laparoscopic Elective Colorectal Surgery? A Prospective, Randomized Controlled Study: The Coffee Study', Diseases of the Colon & Rectum, was that coffee consumption shortens the time to the first postoperative bowel movement, occurring after a median of 65.2 hours in the coffee group and after 74.1 hours in the tea group.
The authors note that post-operative ileus after colorectal surgery is a frequent problem that significantly prolongs hospital stay and increases perioperative costs. Therefore, they designed a prospective randomised controlled trial (conducted between September 2014 and December 2016) to evaluate the effect of standardised coffee intake on postoperative bowel movement after elective laparoscopic colorectal resection.
Patients were randomly assigned either to the intervention group (coffee) or the control group (tea), a total of 150mL (one cup) of the respective beverage was drunk three times per day every postoperative day until discharge. The primary end point was time to first bowel movement and secondary end points included the use of laxative, insertion of a nasogastric tube, length of hospital stay and post-operative complications.
Fifty-six patients were included in the intervention group (coffee) and 59 patients were included in the control group (tea) and all patients drank the same quantity and type of coffee coming from the same type of coffee machine.
After coffee intake, the first bowel movement occurred after a median of 65.2 hours versus 74.1 hours in the control group (p=0.008). The HR for earlier first bowel movement after coffee intake was 1.67 (p=0.009). In the per-protocol analysis, hospital stay was shorter in the coffee group (6 days in the coffee group vs 7 days in the tea group; p=0.043).
“Our study shows that early postoperative coffee intake after elective laparoscopic colorectal resection leads to a faster recovery of bowel function and thus potentially decreases length of hospital stay,” the authors concluded. “Because of its easy availability and low adverse effects, coffee could be integrated in the postoperative management of patients undergoing colorectal resections.”