Diseases & Conditions
What are adhesions?
When tissue that is normally not connected grows together, it is called an adhesion. It is also commonly referred to as scar tissue.
How do they occur?
Sometimes adhesions are present from birth. Usually they occur as part of the healing that takes place after surgery, particularly abdominal surgery. Adhesions can also form after inflammation in the abdomen or pelvis.
What are the symptoms?
Adhesions in the abdomen pull on parts of the intestines and sometimes cause an obstruction. Symptoms may include:
difficulty with passing gas or having a bowel movement
swelling of the abdomen.
How are they diagnosed?
Your doctor will examine you, take your medical history, and possibly x-ray your abdomen. Adhesions are often difficult to diagnose. You may even need surgery to enable the doctor to make the diagnosis.
How are they treated?
You may need surgery to cut away the adhesions, depending on how much they interfere with normal organ function. The kind of operation depends on the location of the adhesions.
How long do the effects last?
There is always a risk that new adhesions will form after surgery for existing adhesions.
How can I take care of myself?
Follow your doctor's recommendations for activity after surgery. If you're being treated for inflammation, take all prescribed medication.
How can I help prevent adhesions?
Because development of adhesions depends on many factors, they can't be prevented completely. If you've had surgery or inflammation in an organ and develop any symptoms, tell your doctor.