Lysis of Adhesions
(Cutting Adhesions; Adhesiolysis)
by Diane W. Shannon, MD, MPH
Adhesions are scars that form within the body. They usually form in the abdomen or pelvis. They can also form in joints or eyes. Adhesions develop naturally after surgery as part of the healing process. They can also develop after infection or any other inflammatory process, such as:
Lysis of adhesions is the process of cutting scar tissue within the body. This is done to restore normal function and reduce pain.
Reasons for Procedure TOP
Adhesions can cause:
This surgery can fix intestinal blockage and treat infertility caused by adhesions. It also reduces chronic abdominal pain in some individuals.
Possible Complications TOP
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
Before your procedure, talk to your doctor about ways to manage factors that may increase your risk of complications such as:
What to Expect TOP
Prior to Procedure
Your doctor will perform a physical exam and may order some of these tests:
Leading up to the surgery:
General anesthesia —blocks pain and keeps you asleep through the surgery
Description of the Procedure TOP
This surgery is usually done laparoscopically.
In some cases, the doctor may need to switch to or do open abdominal surgery (called laparotomy). A larger incision will be made in the abdomen. This will allow direct access to all of the organs. The adhesions will be cut out.
How Long Will It Take? TOP
How Much Will It Hurt? TOP
Anesthesia will prevent pain during surgery. Pain and discomfort after the procedure can be managed with medications.
Average Hospital Stay TOP
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.
Post-procedure Care TOP
During your stay, the hospital staff will take steps to reduce your chance of infection, such as:
There are also steps you can take to reduce your chance of infection, such as:
Some activities will be restricted until the wounds are fully healed. Be sure to follow your doctor's instructions.
Call Your Doctor TOP
It is important to monitor your recovery. Alert your doctor to any problems. If any of the following occur, call your doctor:
If you think you are having an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
American College of Surgeons
International Adhesions Society
Adhesion. Mount Sinai website. Available at:
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Updated Apri 5, 2016. Accessed May 19, 2017.
Dunker MS, Bemelman WA, et al. Long-term outcomes and quality of life after laparoscopic adhesiolysis for chronic abdominal pain. J Am Assoc Gynecol Laparosc. 2004;11:36-41.
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. 2004;31:619-630.
Szomstein S, Lo Menzo E, et al. Laparoscopic lysis of adhesions. World J Surg. 2006;30(4):535-540.
Last reviewed May 2017 by Michael Woods, MD FAAP
Last Updated: 12/20/2014
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