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Adhesions are scars that form within the body. They usually form in the abdomen or pelvis. Adhesions develop naturally after surgery as part of the healing process. They can also develop after infection or any other inflammatory process, such as:
Your doctor will perform a physical exam and may order some of these tests:
Blood and urine tests
Ultrasound—a test that uses sound waves to visualize the inside of the body
CT scan—a type of x-ray that uses a computer to make pictures of the inside of the body
MRI scan—a test that uses magnetic waves to make pictures of the inside of the body
Leading up to the surgery:
Talk to your doctor about your medications. You may be asked to stop taking some medications up to one week before the procedure, like:
Arrange for a ride home from the hospital. Also, arrange for someone to help you at home.
Eat a light meal the night before the surgery. Do not eat or drink anything after midnight.
General anesthesia—blocks pain and keeps you asleep through the surgery; given through an IV in your hand or arm
Description of the Procedure
This surgery is usually done
laparoscopically. After you are asleep and not feeling any pain, a needle will be inserted to inject a gas into the abdomen. The gas will make the abdomen expand. This will make it easier to see the organs. The laparoscope will then be inserted through a small hole that is cut in the skin. The laparoscope lights, magnifies, and projects an image onto a screen. The area will be inspected. The doctor will make several small incisions in the wall of the abdomen. Using small instruments that are put through these holes, the doctor will cut out the adhesions. Doing so will free the organs that were caught in the adhesions.
In some cases, the doctor may need to switch to open abdominal surgery (called
laparotomy). The doctor will make a larger incision in the abdomen. This will allow direct access to all of the organs. The adhesions will be cut out.
How Long Will It Take?
How Much Will It Hurt?
Anesthesia will prevent pain during surgery. Pain and discomfort after the procedure can be managed with medications.
Average Hospital Stay
This surgery is done in a hospital setting. If you have laparoscopic surgery, you will be able to leave that day or the next. If you have open surgery, you will need to stay in the hospital for a few days. You may need to stay longer if you have complications.
During your stay, the hospital staff will take steps to reduce your chance of infection, such as:
Washing their hands
Wearing gloves or masks
Keeping your incisions covered
There are also steps you can take to reduce your chance of infection, such as:
Washing your hands often and reminding your healthcare providers to do the same
Reminding your healthcare providers to wear gloves or masks
Not allowing others to touch your incision
When you return home after the surgery, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:
Keep the incision area clean and dry.
Ask your doctor about when it is safe to shower, bathe, or soak in water.
Kumar V, Abbas AK, et al.
Robbins and Cotran Pathologic Basis of Disease.
7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2005.
Lamvu G, Tu F, et al. The role of laparoscopy in the diagnosis and treatment of conditions associated with chronic pelvic pain.
Obstet Gynecol Clin N Am.
A patient’s guide to adhesions and related pain or…you are not alone. International Adhesions Society website. Available at: ...(Click grey area to select URL) Published 1998. Accessed September 16, 2005.
Saravelos HG, Li TC, et al. An analysis of the outcome of microsurgical and laparoscopic adhesiolysis for chronic pelvic pain.
Stenchever MA, Droegemueller W, et al., eds.
4th ed. St. Louis, MO: Mosby; 2001.
Townsend CM, et al.
Sabiston Textbook of Surgery.
17th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders; 2004.
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This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.