Knowing if you may have abdominal adhesions or not is important because they can cause a lot of abdominal symptoms. Abdominal pain, bowel blockage, or obstructions are the most common.
The term adhesions refer to scar tissue forming between the loops of your bowel and the inner lining of your abdominal wall. It can also attach to other organs in your abdominal cavity. Plus, adhesions can form between the loops of your small and large intestine.
An adhesion will form when inflammation happens on the peritoneal lining of the abdominal cavity or the abdominal organs' surface. The forming of scar tissue from inflammation is the normal part of healing. There can be several reasons for the inflammation prior surgery, organ inflammation, or abdominal radiation treatment.
Other reasons for inflammation and scarring may be from abdominal organs being handled at the time of surgery. It can be from bleeding into the peritoneal cavity or a gynecological condition.
Typically, your loops of the small and large intestines can move around freely inside the abdominal cavity. They slide over each other and other organs over a thin film of lubricating fluid.
After adhesions form, your intestines can't move around freely because now they are tethered to one another, other abdominal organs, or your abdominal wall. Where the adhesions are stuck, the intestines can twist around themselves. The twisting can obstruct your blood supply or the movement of the contents, especially in the small intestine.
Often, the twisting is occasional, but when it happens, the twisting doesn't reverse spontaneously. After the inflammatory sets in, the symptoms from the adhesions may occur soon, but it could take months or even years.
The symptoms of abdominal adhesions are specific to non-specific. When the symptoms are typical, then the diagnosis is more straightforward because the cause is most commonly intestinal obstruction. The typical symptoms of intestinal obstruction are:
Suppose the obstruction is in the small intestine near your stomach. In that case, the obstruction can show up as nausea with or without vomiting.
Patients who have had abdominal surgery are more susceptible to abdominal adhesions. Adhesions are more common in people who have had pelvic surgery or surgery involving the lower digestive tract. This includes the colon and rectum.
Your doctor may recommend surgery to check inside your abdomen and look for adhesions or other issues that may be causing your symptoms. Your surgeon may check for abdomen adhesions with open or laparoscopic surgery.