A light breakfast has been found to empty from the stomach within 4 hours in healthy volunteers.
The aim of this study was to investigate whether a light breakfast of yoghurt or gruel empties from the stomach within 4 hours, in children scheduled for general anaesthesia.
In this observational cohort study, children aged 1‐6 years scheduled for elective general anaesthesia were prescribed free intake of yoghurt or gruel 4 hours prior to induction. They were subsequently examined with gastric ultrasound within 4 hours of ingestion. In case of gastric contents, the gastric antral area was measured, and gastric content volume (GCV) was calculated.
Twenty children were included in the study and the ingested amount of gruel or yoghurt ranged 2.5‐25 mL kg−1. In 15 cases, the stomach was empty with juxtaposed walls and no further measurements were made. In four cases, there was fluid present in the stomach, but the calculated gastric contents were <0.5 mL kg−1. One patient had solids in the stomach, and GCV in this patient was calculated to 2.1 mL kg−1. The patient with solids present had ingested 25 mL kg−1 of gruel 4 hours prior to assessment. The planned procedure was therefore delayed 1 hour. There were no cases of pulmonary aspiration or vomiting.
A light breakfast 4 hours prior to induction may be considered, but there is need for further studies on safe limits for the volume ingested.