Adhesions . They are bands of fibrous tissue. They can attach the intestinal loops to each other, to nearby organs, or to the wall of the abdomen . They can pull the intestinal sections out of place. This can prevent food from passing through the intestine.


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  • 1 Causes, incidence and risk factors
  • 2 Symptoms
  • 3 Signs and tests
  • 4 Treatment
  • 5 Expectations
  • 6 Complications
  • 7 Situations requiring medical assistance
  • 8 Alternative names
  • 9 Source

Causes, incidence and risk factors

Inflammation (swelling), surgery, or injury can cause adhesions to form almost anywhere on the body, including:

  • In joints like the shoulder
  • In the eyes
  • Inside the abdomenor pelvis

Once formed, adhesions can become larger or firmer over time. Symptoms or other problems may occur if the adhesions lead to an organ or body part twisting, slipping out of position, or being unable to move.

The risk of adhesion formation is high after intestinal surgeries or surgeries of the female organs. Surgery using a laparoscope is less likely to cause adhesions than open surgery.

Other causes of adhesions in the abdomen or pelvis:

  • Appendicitis, most often when the appendix opens (ruptures)
  • Cancer
  • Endometriosis
  • Infections in the abdomenand pelvis
  • Radiotherapy

Adhesions can form around joints such as the shoulder or ankles , or in the ligaments and tendons . This problem can happen:

  • After surgery or trauma
  • With certain types of arthritis
  • With a joint or tendon overload


Adhesions to the joints, tendons, or ligaments make joint movement difficult and can cause pain.

The adhesions in the belly ( abdomen ) that cause a twist, contortion or tug can cause a blockage of the intestines . Symptoms include:

  • Abdominal bloating or bloating
  • Constipation
  • Nauseaand vomiting
  • No longer able to evacuate gases
  • Pain in the abdomen that is intense and colicky

Adhesions in the pelvis can cause chronic or prolonged pelvic pain.

Signs and tests

Most of the time, adhesions cannot be seen using x-rays or imaging tests.

  • hysterosalpingogramcan help diagnose adhesions within the uterus or fallopian tubes .
  • The radiographsof the abdomen, barium contrast studies and CT scans can help diagnose a blockage of the intestines caused by adhesions.

An endoscopy (a way of looking at the inside of the body using a flexible probe that has a small camera on the end) can help diagnose adhesions:

  • The hysteroscopyexamines the inside of the uterus
  • The laparoscopyexamines the inside of the abdomen and pelvis


Surgery can be performed to separate the adhesions. This often allows normal movement of the organ and reduces symptoms caused by adhesions; however, the risk of presenting more adhesions increases, as the number of surgeries increases.

Depending on the location of the adhesions, at the time of surgery , a barrier can be placed to try to reduce the possibility that they will reappear.


The prognosis is generally good.


Depending on the tissues involved, adhesions can cause various disorders.

  • In the eye, adhesion of the iris to the lens can lead to the development of glaucoma .
  • In the intestines, adhesions can produce a complete or partial intestinal obstruction .
  • Adhesions within the uterine cavity, called Asherman’s syndrome , can cause a woman to have irregular menstrual cycles and be unable to become pregnant .
  • Pelvic adhesions that involve scarring of the fallopian tubes can lead to sterilityand reproductive problems.
  • Pelvic and abdominal adhesions can cause chronic pain.

Situations requiring medical assistance

Call your doctor if you have:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Inability to evacuate gases
  • Nauseaand vomiting that don’t go away
  • Painful, colickybelly pain

Alternative names

  • Intrauterine adhesion
  • Pelvic adhesion
  • Intraperitoneal adhesion


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