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Eating solid food after an appendectomy

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My father, who is 81, had his ruptured appendix removed 5 days ago. He is in the hospital still and will not be released until he has a bowel movement or at least passes gas. They have not allowed him any solid food since the surgery and is being fed by iv. He has no food in him. He took exlax or something the day before surgery and had a large bm the morning of the surgery. The med staff says they hear activity in his intestines, but no action coming out! It's long will they keep him? Is this normal? Why can't he have some solid food?

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replied February 7th, 2010
Appendix and Appendicitis Answer A9821
Hi and welcome to the forum! I am glad that I can help you.

You would like to know why your father mustn't receive solid food after abdominal surgery.

Appendicitis is a condition defined as inflammation of the appendix. In case of a rupture of the appendix, the abdominal cavity gets in physical contact with the bowel content, which is naturally rich with bacteria, and may cause peritonitis, a condition that may be life threatening if not recognized properly. If individuals are fed with solid food right after the surgery, the stitches may tear and the bowel content may be released in the abdominal cavity leading to peritonitis. There is a condition called postoperative ileus, a condition in which the contents of the intestine are unable to pass through.

Given the data that you provide, your father experiences small but not functional bowel movements after the appendectomy. Doctors agree that there should be normal bowel movement before the patient is transferred from intravenous feeding to feeding with solid food. Usually if no intestine activity is heard then a medical treatment is required. You may consider consulting your father's surgeon for further information.

Please keep in mind that I provide medical information only. I am not able to diagnose medical conditions online. Please contact your father's doctor or other qualified healthcare provider such as an abdominal surgeon for further advice and information about your father's current condition.

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