Anesthesia | Does Anesthesia Cause Sluggish Bowels after a Hysterectomy?

The bowel does not go to sleep and wake up the same way that your brain does, but it is affected by your hysterectomy. Post-operative ileus (sluggish bowel after surgery) can be caused by several different things, most notably inflammation, hormonal changes, and narcotic pain medications used to manage your pain.

Surgery of any kind can create an inflammatory response in the body which can suppress bowel function. Your surgeon may use medications and techniques to try to minimize inflammation and its affects on your bowel and surrounding tissues.

Abdominal surgery and handling of the bowel during your hysterectomy can also stimulate a sympathetic nervous system, which can lead to a sluggish bowel in the days after surgery. Studies have found that epidural anesthesia can block that sympathetic stimulation so your bowels are less sluggish following surgery.

The use of narcotic pain medications during and after your surgery will have the biggest impact on whether or not your bowel is sluggish following your hysterectomy. If your surgeon uses techniques that can reduce the amount of narcotic pain medications needed during and after surgery, your bowel function could recover sooner. As soon as you are able, you should stop using narcotic pain medications during recovery to help your bowel return to normal faster.

Studies are finding that postoperative lieus can be reduced if the bowel is stimulated immediately after surgery. One way to do this without food is chewing gum, so you can discuss this option with your doctor.

If you have concerns or known bowel problems, be sure to share them with your surgeon as the anesthesia, surgical techniques, and pain medications used during your hysterectomy can affect how sluggish your bowel will be after your hysterectomy. You can help your bowel by walking, getting off narcotics, chewing gum, and eating as soon as you are allowed.

This content was written by a member of as a non-medical professional based on discussions, resources and input from other patients for the purpose of patient-to-patient support. Reprinted with permission: Anesthesia | Does Anesthesia Cause Sluggish Bowels after a Hysterectomy?



Recent Posts