What causes an adhesion?
An adhesion is a band of scar tissue that develops abnormally between two body organs or between an organ and the abdominal wall.
Anything that disrupts the healing mechanisms after an injury can cause adhesions. The injury can be a result of surgery, inflammation, infection or radiation.
Abdominal surgery is the most common cause of abdominal adhesions. Every 93 out of 100 people who undergo surgery develop adhesions. The reasons can be anything from
- Incisional procedures
- Dehydration of abdominal organs
- Contact of foreign bodies, such as gloves, with the tissues (when the foreign body remains inside the abdomen after the surgery)
Other causes of abdominal adhesions include inflammation/infection, such as
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- Sexually transmitted disease (STD)
- Crohn’s disease (chronic inflammatory bowel disease)
- Diverticulitis (infection of the pouches that may form in your intestine)
- Appendicitis (inflammation of the appendix)
- Cholecystitis (inflammation of the gallbladder)
- Peritonitis (inflammation of the membrane that lines the abdominal wall and the outside of the organs)
- Rheumatic fever (a disease that may develop after an infection, such as strep throat or scarlet fever)
- Radiation therapy, (high energy waves) which is used to destroy tumor cells, can also increase your risk of adhesions
Adhesions can also be present by birth (congenital), though it is rare.
What does adhesion pain feel like?
Most adhesions do not cause any symptoms and are usually pain-free.
Pain is most commonly experienced in the following conditions
- Endometrial adhesions: Pain is more of an internal stabbing rather than dull and persistent throbbing. It feels like something is pulling your abdomen inward.
- Intestinal obstruction: Sometimes, adhesions can come in between the folds of the intestine and block it. This can cause intermittent bouts of crampy abdominal pain. If the adhesions cause complete intestinal obstruction, the abdominal cramps can be severe. Complete intestinal obstruction is an emergency condition. You will not be able to pass waste or gas from your body. This is also known as small bowel obstruction. Its other signs and symptoms include
How do you get rid of adhesions?
It is not always possible to get rid of adhesions. The surgery to remove adhesions can itself cause more adhesions. If they are causing symptoms, such as discomfort or pain, your doctor may recommend surgery to remove them. This procedure is known as adhesiolysis.
Adhesiolysis can be performed in two ways
- Open adhesiolysis: A single, large cut (incision) is made through the midline of your body, which can be extended to either side of your belly button to remove the abdominal adhesions.
- Laparoscopic adhesiolysis: A tube-like camera is inserted through a single, small incision made into your abdomen to visualize and remove the abdominal adhesions.
Complete intestinal obstructions usually require urgent surgery to clear the blockage of adhesions. Most partial intestinal obstructions do not need surgery. Eating a low-fiber diet generally helps clear the blockage.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Top What Causes an Adhesion Related Articles
Abdominal Adhesions (Scar Tissue)Abdominal adhesions (scar tissue) bands of scar tissue that form between abdominal organs and tissues. Symptoms of abdominal adhesions are pelvic or abdominal pain. Abdominal adhesions on the intestines can cause bowel obstruction, which is a medical emergency. Treatment for abdominal adhesions is generally surgery to cut the adhesions away from the internal tissues and organs. There is no way to prevent abdominal adhesions.
Appendicitis is an inflammation of the appendix. Appendicitis often causes sings and symptoms such as abdominal pain in the lower right quadrant, nausea, vomiting, abdominal tenderness, fever, and loss of appetite.
Delay in surgery can result in appendix rupture with potentially serious complications.
Appendicitis SlideshowWhat causes appendicitis? What causes a burst or ruptured appendix? Learn step-by-step what happens during laparoscopic appendectomy. Find appendectomy recovery time, early appendicitis warning signs, and what the appendix's functions are. Know the appendicitis symptoms like pain in the abdomen.
Appendicitis PictureInflammation of the appendix, the small worm-like projection from the first part of the colon. See a picture of Appendicitis and learn more about the health topic.
Appendicitis QuizHow dangerous is appendicitis? Take this quiz to answer questions, get quick facts, and learn the causes of appendicitis as well as symptoms, risks, and treatments for this common condition.
Are Adhesions and Scar Tissue the Same?Most of the time, the terms adhesions and scar tissue are used interchangeably. They are the same thing. Scar tissue is the collection of cells and a protein called collagen at the injury site. Scar forms outside the body on your skin during the healing process of a wound after an injury, fall, or accident.
Can Adhesions Be Removed Laparoscopically?The process of removing adhesions through a laparoscope is called laparoscopic adhesiolysis. Doctors typically diagnose adhesions during a surgical procedure with laparoscopy.
Crohn's DiseaseCrohn's disease is a chronic inflammatory disease, primarily involving the small and large intestine, but which can affect other parts of the digestive system as well. Abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and weight loss are common symptoms.
Crohn's Disease QuizWhat causes Crohn's disease? What are the symptoms of Crohn's disease? How is Crohn's treated? Take this quiz to get the facts about Crohn's.
Crohn's Disease: Symptoms, Causes, DietWhat is Crohn's disease? Get more information on this digestive disorder and how Crohn's can affect your diet. Learn more about tests to diagnose Crohn's disease, as well as treatments for Crohn's.
Crohn's Disease vs. Ulcerative Colitis (UC)Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis are diseases that cause inflammation of part of or the entire digestive tract (GI). Crohn's affects the entire GI tract (from the mouth to the anus), while ulcerative colitis or ulcerative colitis only affects the large and small intestine and ilium. Researchers do not know the exact cause of either disease. About 20% of people with Crohn's disease also have a family member with the disease. Researchers believe that certain factors may play a role in causing UC. Both Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis are a type of inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD.
Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis both have similar symptoms and signs, for example, nausea, loss of appetite, fatigue, weight loss, episodic and/or persistent diarrhea, fever, abdominal pain and cramping, rectal bleeding, bloody stools, joint pain and soreness, eye redness, or pain. Symptoms unique to Crohn’s disease include anemia and skin changes. Symptoms of unique to ulcerative colitis include, certain rashes, an urgency to defecate (have a bowel movement). Doctors diagnose both diseases with similar tests and procedures. While there is no cure for either disease, doctors and other health care professionals can help you treat disease flares, and manage your Crohn's or ulcerative colitis with medication, diet, nutritional supplements, and/or surgery.
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is the most common and serious complication of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), aside from AIDS, among women. The signs and symptoms of pelvic inflammatory disease include: fever, vaginal discharge with a foul odor, abdominal pain, including pain during intercourse, and irregular vaginal bleeding. Pelvic inflammatory disease can scar the Fallopian tubes, ovaries, and related structures and lead to ectopic pregnancies, infertility, chronic pelvic pain, and other serious consequences. Pelvic inflammatory disease treatment includes several types of antibiotics.
Can You Have a Pelvic Inflammatory Disease Without Having an STD?In about 10% of cases, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) may occur without having an STD. The majority of PID is sexually transmitted. The most common causative microorganisms of PID are sexually transmitted and include gonorrhea, chlamydia, trichomonas and mycoplasma.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases in Women (STDs)Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are among the most common infectious diseases in the United States. STDs can be spread through any type of sexual activity involving the sex organs, the anus or mouth, or through contact with blood during sexual activity. Examples of STDs include, chancroid, chlamydia, gonorrhea, granuloma inguinale, lymphogranuloma venereum, syphilis, genital herpes, genital warts, trichomoniasis, pubic lice (crabs), and scabies. Treatment is generally with antibiotics; however, some STDs that go untreated can lead to death.
STD QuizThere are more sexually transmitted diseases than just the ones you've heard of. Find out what you've been missing with the STD Quiz.
STDs Facts SlideshowSexually transmitted infections like chlamydia and genital herpes are common STDs. Think you might have an STD? You’re not alone. Find pictures of herpes, gonorrhea, and more. Learn how venereal disease can harm your health, and how to tell your partner if you have an STD.
What Does a Crohn’s Disease Attack Feel Like?Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease featuring chronic inflammation of the inner of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Patients experience periods of symptomatic relapse and remission. What initiates the autoimmune reaction in Crohn’s disease is unclear, but genetic and environmental factors play roles. Crohn’s disease is a lifelong, progressive disease with no cure.