Postoperative ileus is a major complication for persons undergoing abdominal surgery. Daikenchuto, a Japanese traditional medicine (Kampo), is a drug that may reduce postoperative ileus.
To assess the efficacy and safety of Daikenchuto for reducing prolonged postoperative ileus in persons undergoing elective abdominal surgery.
We searched the following databases on 3 July 2017: CENTRAL, MEDLINE, Embase, ICHUSHI, WHO (World Health Organization) International Clinical Trials Registry Platform (ICTRP), EU Crinical Trials registry (EU-CTR), UMIN Clinical Trials Registry (UMIN-CTR), ClinicalTrials.gov, The Japan Society for Oriental Medicine (JSOM), American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endscopic Surgeons (SAGES). We set no limitations on language or date of publication.
We included randomised controlled trials (RCTs) comparing Daikenchuto with any control condition in adults, 18 years of age or older, undergoing elective abdominal surgery.
We applied standard methodological procedures expected by Cochrane. Two review authors independently reviewed the articles identified by literature searches, extracted data, and assessed risk of bias of the included studies using the Cochrane software Review Manager 5.
We included seven RCTs with a total of 1202 participants. Overall, we judged the risk of bias as low in four studies and high in three studies. We are uncertain whether Daikenchuto reduced time to first flatus (mean difference (MD) -11.32 hours, 95% confidence interval (CI) -17.45 to -5.19; two RCTs, 83 participants; very low-quality evidence), or time to first bowel movement (MD -9.44 hours, 95% CI -22.22 to 3.35; four RCTs, 500 participants; very low-quality evidence) following surgery. There was little or no difference in time to resumption of regular solid food following surgery (MD 3.64 hours, 95% CI -24.45 to 31.74; two RCTs, 258 participants; low-quality evidence). There were no adverse events in either arm of the five RCTs that reported on drug-related adverse events (risk difference (RD) 0.00, 95% CI -0.02 to 0.02, 568 participants, low-quality evidence). We are uncertain of the effect of Daikenchuto on patient satisfaction (MD 0.09, 95% CI -0.19 to 0.37; one RCT, 81 participants; very low-quality of evidence). There was little or no difference in the incidence of any re-interventions for postoperative ileus before leaving hospital (risk ratio (RR) 0.99, 95% CI 0.06 to 15.62; one RCT, 207 participants; moderate-quality evidence), or length of hospital stay (MD -0.49 days, 95% CI -1.21 to 0.22; three RCTs, 292 participants; low-quality evidence).
Evidence from current literature was unclear whether Daikenchuto reduced postoperative ileus in patients undergoing elective abdominal surgery, due to the small number of participants in the meta-analyses. Very low-quality evidence means we are uncertain whether Daikenchuto improved postoperative flatus or bowel movement. Further well-designed and adequately powered studies are needed to assess the efficacy of Daikenchuto.