An adhesion is a fibrous band that forms between two surfaces in the abdomen. Because the organs in your body rest up against one another, their surfaces must be slippery to avoid sticking. Sometimes after surgery these surfaces stick together. Adhesions can also form after trauma or damage to internal organs, or after a severe gynecological or abdominal infection.
For most patients, chronic abdominal pain is the only symptom of adhesion; however, we treat so many other conditions that come with chronic abdominal pain, it’s not always easy to narrow it down. If a patient comes to me with chronic abdominal pain that is in the same area and doesn’t seem to get better with other treatments, an adhesion may be the cause. Unfortunately, detecting adhesions is not easy. Like endometriosis implants, they are small in size and do not show up on x-rays or scans. Once an adhesion is suspected, surgery is the only way to remove it as there is currently no medical treatment that will dissolve an adhesion or reduce its size. If a patient has no symptoms, an adhesion may be overlooked for many years.
During my surgeries I proactively look for adhesions. If I see any adhesions I remove them right then instead of waiting to see if they create problems for you in the future. I also take steps to prevent them from occurring. By choosing to perform laparoscopic surgeries whenever possible, I keep surgery times low and prevent rough handling of organs.
Photo credit: A.D.A.M. Consumer Health