Objective: Postoperative early oral or enteral intake is a crucial element of the Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) protocol. However, normal food intake or enteral feeding cannot be started early in the presence of coexisting bowel dysfunction in patients undergoing liver transplantation (LT). The aim of this multicenter, randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial was to determine the enhancement effects of the Japanese herbal medicine Daikenchuto (DKT) on oral/enteral caloric intake in patients undergoing LT. Methods: A total of 112 adult patients undergoing LT at 14 Japanese centers were enrolled. The patients were randomly assigned to receive either DKT or placebo from postoperative day (POD) 1 to 14. The primary endpoints were total oral/enteral caloric intake, abdominal distension, and pain on POD 7. The secondary endpoints included sequential changes in total oral/enteral caloric intake after LT, and portal venous flow volume and velocity in the graft. Results: A total of 104 patients (DKT, n = 55; placebo, n = 49) were included in the analyses. There were no significant differences between the two groups in terms of primary endpoints. However, postoperative total oral/enteral caloric intake was significantly accelerated in the DKT group compared with the placebo group (P = 0.023). Moreover, portal venous flow volume (POD 10, 14) and velocity (POD 14) were significantly higher in the DKT group than in the placebo group (P = 0.047, P = 0.025, P = 0.014, respectively). Conclusions: Postoperative administration of DKT may enhance total oral/enteral caloric intake and portal venous flow volume and velocity after LT and favorably contribute to the performance of the ERAS protocol.
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