Abdominal adhesions - causes, diagnosis, treatment


Adhesions are bands of scar-like tissue that forms between abdominal tissues and organs. Normally, internal tissues and organs have slippery surfaces, preventing them from sticking together as the body moves. Abdominal adhesions cause tissues and organs in the abdominal cavity stick together. They can pull sections of the intestines out of place, causing an intestinal obstruction, also called a bowel obstruction.



The abdomen is located on the front part of the torso, the internal area of the body between the chest and hips that contains the lower part of the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, and large intestine.

Adhesions can occur anywhere in the body. But they often form after surgery on the abdomen. Surgery-related causes include

  • cuts involving internal organs
  • handling of internal organs
  • drying out of internal organs and tissues
  • contact of internal tissues with foreign materials, such as gauze, surgical gloves, and stitches
  • blood or blood clots that were not rinsed away during surgery

Almost everyone who has surgery on the abdomen gets adhesions.

Abdominal adhesions can also result from inflammation not related to surgery, including

  • appendix rupture
  • radiation treatment
  • gynecological infections
  • abdominal infections

Rarely, abdominal adhesions form without apparent cause.

Adhesions can sometimes cause infertility in women by preventing fertilized eggs from reaching the uterus.



Usually, there are no symptoms associated with the presence of adhesions. However, some can cause partial or complete block of the intestines. In intestinal obstruction, common symptoms are:

  • Severe abdominal pain or cramping
  • Vomiting
  • Bloating
  • An inability to pass gas
  • Constipation




No tests are available to diagnose adhesions. They cannot be seen through imaging techniques such as X- rays, ultrasounds, or CT scans. Most adhesions are found during subsequent operations.

Intestinal obstructions

However, abdominal x-rays, a lower gastrointestinal (GI) series, and computerized tomography (CT) scans can diagnose intestinal obstructions.



Abdominal adhesions that do not cause symptoms generally do not require treatment. Surgery is the only way to treat abdominal adhesions that cause pain, intestinal obstruction, or fertility problems.

It is hard to prevent abdominal adhesions, but the way a surgery is performed can reduce the risk of adhesions. Laparoscopic surgery decreases the potential for abdominal adhesions, but it’s not always an option.


Home remedy

A person with a partial intestinal obstruction may relieve symptoms with a liquid or low-fiber diet, which is more easily broken down into smaller particles by the digestive system.




* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.