Aim: Recent evidence suggests that the provision of energy-containing fluids is safe and may impact positively on markers of recovery. The aims of this study were to assess the tolerance of preoperative carbohydrate fluid administration and to determine its effect on postoperative metabolic and clinical responses.\ud \ud Methods: Patients admitted to the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh for major, elective abdominal surgery were recruited to this double-blind, randomised study and received either a placebo drink or carbohydrate (12.6 g/100 ml) drink (CHOD). Patients consumed 800 ml of their drink on the evening before surgery and 400 ml on the day of surgery 2–3 h before the induction of anaesthesia. Nutritional status was determined using body mass index (BMI) and upper arm anthropometry; all measurements were taken preoperatively, postoperatively and at discharge. Blood glucose and insulin concentrations were also measured preoperatively and on the first post operative day. Length of hospital stay (LOS) and postoperative complications were recorded.\ud \ud Results: Seventy-two patients were recruited and 65 (34 male:31 female) completed this study. Thirty-four patients were randomised to receive the placebo drink (control group) and 31 patients to receive the carbohydrate drink (CHOD group). Groups were well-matched in terms of gender and age. There were no differences between the two groups at baseline for BMI (control: −25.1±1.7 kg/m2; CHOD −25.2±1.2 kg/m2), upper arm anthropometry or surgical procedure. At discharge loss of muscle mass (arm muscle circumference) was significantly greater in the control group when compared with the CHOD group (control: −1.1±0.15 cm; CHOD: −0.5±0.16 cm; P<0.05). Baseline insulin (control: 20.7±4.9mU/l; CHOD: 24.6±6.2mU/l) and glucose (control: 6.0±1.4 mmol/l; CHOD 5.7±1.4 mmol/l) were comparable in the two groups and did not differ postoperatively. No complications were recorded as a result of preoperative fluid consumption. Postoperative morbidity occurred in six patients from each group. Median LOS in the control group was 10 days (IQR=6), and 8 days (IQR=4) in the CHOD group.\ud \ud Conclusion: Preoperative consumption of carbohydrate-containing fluids is safe. Provision of a carbohydrate energy source prior to surgery may attenuate depletion of muscle mass after surgery. Further studies are required to determine if this preservation of muscle mass is reflected in improved function and reduced rehabilitation time
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