World journal of gastroenterology. 2009;15(39):4919-22
Plain language summary
Preoperative fasting is usually carried out to prevent the risk of vomiting during anaesthesia. The study investigated whether children should have a long period of fasting before surgery. Eight groups of 10 children (aged 1-10 years) with disorders of groin and scrotum were orally fed normal liquid food (NLF) or a high calorie diet (HCD) in 2 divided doses at 6 hour intervals, then fasted for 2, 3, 4 or 5 hours prior to surgery. Four groups had NLF and 4 groups had HCD. All children had their glucose, prealbumin and cortisol levels measured twice, just after the oral feeding and just before surgery. Once anaesthesia was sufficient and stable, gastric liquid was collected and measured. Patients with disease that could delay gastric emptying, had high acid production or were on medication were excluded from the trial. The researchers found that there was no significant difference in blood prealbumin levels in all groups. There was significant increase in blood cortisol in 4 groups when fasted (NLF-2h fasted, HCD-2h fasted, NLF-3h fasted and HCD-5h fasted). Stomach aid residue liquids were at tolerable levels of 1-2ml in all children. Anaesthesia was uneventful, with no coughing, laryngospasm or vomiting reported, and outcomes of surgery and wound healing were not affected. The authors noted that drinking clear liquids up to 2 hours before surgery was unlikely to substantially affect the volume of gastric fluids, and did not appear to increase the risk of vomiting in normal, healthy children. Glucose and insulin infusions appeared to minimise endocrine stress response and normalised post-op insulin sensitivity. Additionally, there may be a psychological benefit for children as irritability appeared to decrease prior to surgery. The study concluded that there was no need for fasting longer than 2 hours prior to inguinoscrotal region surgery.