I am currently specialising in General Surgery and have taken time out from training to undertake a PhD investigating postoperative gut dysfunction. I hope to eventually practice as an Academic Surgeon at a tertiary hospital within New Zealand. The objectives of this thesis are to characterise pressure wave movement in the large bowel peri-operatively and after tissue healing has occurred, to determine risk factors for developing postoperative ileus (POI) and to investigate the therapeutic value of gastrografin in managing POI. The principal methodologies will be systematic review, retrospective review, prospective observational studies, and a double-blind placebo-controlled randomised trial. POI slows patient recovery, increases postoperative morbidity and prolongs hospital stay. The cost of its management is estimated at $US1.5 billion annually in the USA alone. It is hoped that these projects will facilitate a clearer understanding of the pathophysiologic basis of POI, and appraise the therapeutic value of a novel intervention.