OBJECTIVE:: To investigate whether perioperative intravenous glutamine supplementation may affect surgical morbidity. SUMMARY BACKGROUND DATA:: Small-sized randomized trials showed a trend toward a reduction of postoperative infections in surgical patients receiving glutamine. METHODS:: A randomized, multicentre trial was carried out in 428 subjects who were candidates for elective major gastrointestinal surgery. Inclusion criteria were: documented gastrointestinal cancer, weight loss 18 years. Patients received either intravenous infusion of L-alanine-L-glutamine dipeptide (0.40 g/kg/d; equal to 0.25 g of free glutamine) (Ala-Glu group, n = 212), or no supplementation (control group, n = 216). Glutamine infusion began the day before operation and continued postoperatively for at least 5 days. No postoperative artificial nutrition was allowed unless patients could not adequately eat by day 7. Postoperative morbidity was assessed by independent observers according to a priori definition. RESULTS:: Patients were homogenous for baseline and surgical characteristics. Mean percent of weight loss was 1.4 (2.7) in controls and 1.4 (2.4) in Ala-Glu group. Overall postoperative complication rate was 34.9% (74/212) in Ala-Glu and 32.9% (71/216) in control group (P = 0.65). Infectious morbidity was 19.3% (41/212) in Ala-Glu group and 17.1% (37/216) in controls (P = 0.55). The rate of major complications was 7.5% (16/212) in Ala-Glu group and 7.9% (17/216) in controls (P = 0.90). Mean length of hospitalization was 10.2 days (4.8) in Ala-Glu group versus 9.9 days (3.9) in controls (P = 0.90). The rate of patients requiring postoperative artificial nutrition was 13.2% (28/212) in Ala-Glu group and 12.0% (26/216) in controls (P = 0.71). CONCLUSIONS:: Perioperative glutamine does not affect outcome in well-nourished GI cancer patients.
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