What Are the Treatments for Abdominal Adhesions?

Written by kay wagers
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Most people who have abdominal adhesions never know that the scar tissue is there. Those who do have symptoms caused by adhesions often experience chronic pain. Because there is no reliably effective treatment for abdominal adhesions, doctors focus on prevention rather than curing them.

The Facts

Abdominal adhesions are bands of tissue that form between organs in the abdomen and the tissue that surrounds them. An adhesion is a scar that binds tissue to an organ in a connection that restricts natural movement within the abdominal cavity. Adhesions are caused by injury to the tissue. This injury can take place during abdominal surgery when the tissue is cut or it can occur as a result of inflammation or infection. Treatments for abdominal adhesions include surgery and other therapies. Most physicians try to stop them from occurring in the first place.


As of 2009, the only direct treatment for abdominal adhesions is surgery. Intended to break apart the adhesion and relieve the patient's pain, this form of surgery is called adhesiolysis. A surgeon will carefully cut into the adhesion, breaking the connection it forms between the effected organ and the tissue that surrounds it. Because adhesions are prone to reforming, some doctors are reluctant to perform adhesiolysis. There is no guarantee treatment will help subside the pain or will prove effective for a significant amount of time.


Because the surgical option of treatment for abdominal adhesions is not a guaranteed cure, many doctors focus on trying to prevent them from occurring in the first place. These techniques are also used during adhesiolysis to try to prevent the adhesions from reoccurring during the surgery intended to relieve them. They include choosing laparoscopic surgery, using air and water to move tissue rather than physically shifting them, applying Gor-Tex or Seprafilm to tissue that does not need to touch to prevent adhesions from forming between them and using fluid solutions to keep body tissues moist.

Other Treatments

If adhesions are being caused by an infection or inflammation, treating that infection will prevent new adhesions from forming. Some treatments for abdominal adhesions focus on relieving the pain the adhesions cause rather than treating the adhesions directly. These treatments include massage of the painful area, acupuncture and biofeedback techniques for pain management. A doctor can also prescribe pain medication to help relieve a patient's discomfort.


Many people who have abdominal adhesions do not experience pain or other symptoms and do not require treatment. Abdominal adhesions should be monitored because they can make future surgeries in a patient's abdominal area difficult to perform. There is also a risk that an abdominal adhesion will twist or kink, potentially obstructing the intestines.

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