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Diagnosed with cancer. Underwent colon surgery. Started vomiting. Normal?

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Oncologist, Surgical
Practicing since : 2008
Answered : 576 Questions
MY father 65 years old underwent colon surgery after diagnosed with cancer. Operation went well and he was shifted from ICU to normal bed after 1 day. He was doing fine but after they removed the NG tube from his nose, he started vomitting a lot. SO, the NG tube had to be reinserted back. Now, we are getting worried. Please advise if this is a common symptom and how long will this take to be addressed. Also, he is on IV fluid for more than 2 days. How soon can he be given something orally?
Posted Sun, 2 Jun 2013 in Colon Cancer
Answered by Dr. Rohan Khandelwal 51 minutes later
Dear Ma'am,

Sorry to hear about your father's problem. Surgery for colonic cancer is quite extensive and because of the bowel handling during surgery, the bowel does not move for a few days afterwards and that is what leads to distention & vomiting. This is quite common after colonic surgery and usually resolves within 2-4 days. NG tube is kept to keep the distention under control and prevent vomiting. There is no harm if he receives IV fluids for 2-3 days. Oral diet will be started once he starts passing flatus and feces. When oral diet is started, he might feel a bit nauseous and the diet has to be built up gradually.
Another cause of prolonged ileus (no motility) is potassium deficiency. Kindly check that the potassium levels in his blood are within the normal range. If not, he would require potassium replacement in his IV fluids.

Hoping for the best. Please feel free to clarify any other query.
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Follow-up: Diagnosed with cancer. Underwent colon surgery. Started vomiting. Normal? 7 hours later
thanks Doctor.
For now, he is in a better condition and vomitting is also under control after the NG tube was inserted back.
The doctor said he will be on IV fluids for 4-5 days before they start giving some liquid diet orally.
Good thing is he is able to stand on his own feet and walk a little without any support, which is encouraging.

Hoping for the best.
Answered by Dr. Rohan Khandelwal 3 minutes later
Dear ma'am,

Thank you for sharing his current clinical status. The management plan which your doctor has described, seems logical and you should stick to it. Hopefully he will recover soon.

Please feel free to clarify any other query.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Diagnosed with cancer. Underwent colon surgery. Started vomiting. Normal? 13 hours later
Thanks doctor.
The patient was passing lot of wind and also passed stool which had blood. Is this normal? Should we be starting some oral feed now? The doctor has not come yet... will let you know his advice
Answered by Dr. Rohan Khandelwal 2 hours later
Dear Ma'am,

Thank you for asking your question. It is a good sign that he is passing gas abduction stools. Some amount of blood in stools is expected initially due to the surgery carried out and it is not an alarming sign. His NG tube can be removed today and he can be given sips of liquids. If he tolerates liquids well, he can very started in semi solids by tomorrow. The iv fluids can also be tapered from tomorrow onwards.

Hoping for the best.
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