Abdominal adhesions are bands of scar tissue that form between the tissues of the abdominal cavity and the organs within that cavity, causing the tissues and organs to stick together. Although the condition is often asymptomatic, according to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC), adhesions can be a source of chronic pain and may lead to intestinal obstruction. The only cure for adhesions is surgery, but a restrictive diet can help ease symptoms in the event of intestinal obstruction.
The most common cause of abdominal adhesions, according to Aetna InteliHealth, is invasive abdominal surgery when organs in the abdominal cavity are temporarily moved from their normal positions to facilitate the procedure. The condition can also arise as a complication of endometriosis or peritonitis. The former is a condition in which the tissue that lines the uterus develops elsewhere in the body, causing bleeding, pain and possible infertility. Peritonitis is an inflammation of the membrane that lines the abdominal cavity and covers the vital organs.
For many patients, abdominal adhesions produce no symptoms at all, according to Aetna InteliHealth. However, the NDDIC notes, adhesions sometimes cause an intestinal obstruction if they twist, kink or pull the intestines out of place. Symptoms of this complication of adhesions can include constipation, bloating, vomiting, cramping, severe abdominal pain, abdominal swelling, inability to pass gas and loud bowel sounds. A complete intestinal obstruction is a medical emergency and usually requires immediate surgical intervention to correct the condition. However, the symptoms of a partial obstruction often can be managed temporarily through diet, although only surgery can remove the root cause of the obstruction.
If you have been diagnosed with abdominal adhesions and are awaiting surgery to correct them or if you have a partial intestinal obstruction, you must be very careful about what you eat. For those with a partial intestinal obstruction, the NDDIC recommends either a liquid diet or one that is low-residue. This may also be a wise course for anyone with adhesions as it minimises the possibility that an intestinal obstruction will develop.
Foods allowed on a low-residue diet, according to MayoClinic.com, include broth-based soups that have been strained; most dairy products, including butter, milk, yoghurt, ice cream and cream-based sauces and soups that have been strained; eggs; and honey, jelly and syrup. Also allowed are fruit and vegetable juices without seeds or pulp; margarine, mayonnaise, oils and smooth salad dressings; white rice; and tender fish, meat or poultry. Although the above-mentioned dairy products are allowable, it is recommended that daily consumption be limited to two cups or less.
Foods to Avoid
MayoClinic.com recommends that the following foods be avoided while you are on your low-residue diet: whole-grain foods, including breads, cereals and pasta; whole fruits and vegetables; luncheon meats or cheese with seeds; tough or fatty meats; nuts and seeds; ice creams, puddings, yoghurts or cream-based soups that contain pieces of nuts, fruits or vegetables; marmalade; and peanut butter.