Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.


Abdominal Adhesions Overview

What are abdominal adhesions?
A person with abdominal adhesions has formed bands of scar tissue inside the abdomen. This can cause the internal organs and tissues to become stuck together. In some cases, these bands of tissue can disturb normal bowel function and even cause the intestines to become blocked, a condition known as intestinal obstruction. The most common cause for abdominal adhesions is prior abdominal surgery. The more abdominal operations a person has, the greater the risk for abdominal adhesions. Certain conditions, such as peritonitis, ruptured appendix, or perforated intestine can make the later formation of abdominal adhesions more likely. Radiation therapy for cancer that involves the abdomen can also increase the risk for this condition. Gynecologic infections such as pelvic inflammatory disease can also trigger the formation of abdominal adhesions.

What are the symptoms of abdominal adhesions?
Symptoms of abdominal adhesions often include recurrent constipation, chronic abdominal pain, chronic pelvic pain, and abdominal bloating. Severe abdominal adhesions within the pelvis can distort the anatomy of Fallopian tube, leading to infertility. Symptoms of an intestinal obstruction due to abdominal adhesions include acute abdominal pain, abdominal swelling, abdominal tenderness, constipation, diarrhea, fever, nausea, and vomiting.

How does the doctor treat abdominal adhesions?
Treatment depends on the severity of the problem. Mild adhesions that cause only occasional symptoms may require no treatment at all. In some cases, a procedure known as adhesiolysis can be performed to breakdown the bands of scar tissue, responsible for more severe and recurrent symptoms.

Last Updated: May 16, 2011 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Abdominal Adhesions References
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  2. Ferri's Clinical Advisor, Fred F. Ferri - 2007
  3. Genetics Home Reference, National Institutes of Health
  4. Griffith's 5-Minute Clinical Consult, Mark Dambro - 2006
  5. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, Anthony S. Fauci, Eugene Braunwald, Dennis L. Kasper, Stephen L. Hauser, Dan L. Longo, J. Larry Jameson, Joseph Loscalzo - 2008
  6. Nelson textbook of pediatrics, Robert Kliegman, Richard E. Behrman, Waldo Emerson Nelson - 2007
  7. Office of Rare Diseases Research, National Institutes of Health
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