Intestinal Adhesions

Important Information Pertaining to Intestinal Adhesions

Intestinal adhesions consist of fibrous tissue that resembles bands connecting intestinal loops or the intestine to other organs within the abdominal cavity.  When the fibrous tissue bands start to pull in various areas of the intestines, they can actually be pulled out of place.  In some instances, this pulling even blocks food from passing normally through the intestinal tract.  Intestinal adhesions are serious in that they obstruct the intestines, stopping them from functioning properly.

Sometimes, intestinal adhesions are seen in newborn babies, known as “congenital intestinal adhesions.”  Other possible causes include surgery such as hysterectomy, gallbladder removal, colonoscopy, pancreas surgery, and removal of the appendix.  In addition, serious injury, perhaps a bad fall or car accident, endometriosis, Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), and inflammation of the intestines can also cause intestinal adhesions.  Of all possibilities, this problem is seen most often following surgery.

The types of symptoms a person would experience with intestinal adhesions depends on what all is connected inside by the fibrous band and the severity of the adhesions.  However, most people will experience nausea, vomiting, stomach distention, fever, abdominal pain, and increased pulse.  If a person experiences two or more of these symptoms together, it is important to be seen by a doctor.

In some cases, the doctor would use nasogastric intubation, which involves passing a small tube through the nose, through the esophagus, and into the stomach, along with suction to remove the blockage.  If this procedure did not remove the intestinal adhesions causing the blockage, surgery would be required.  In this case, the fibrous tissue would be cut and the intestinal loops freed.  Of course, the surgeon would also check for any damage to the intestines and wall and anything were found, it would be fixed at that time.

Keep in mind that in most cases, intestinal adhesions are not a problem.  In fact, medical experts estimate that only 2% to 3% of the time an actual blockage develops.  Even then, the blockage could take several years before it begins to cause problems.  Now, in women wanting to have children, there is risk with intestinal adhesions that the fallopian tube can become blocked, which means infertility.

Some of the challenges associated with the development of intestinal adhesions are potential for putting pressure or pulling on nerves and/or organs.  When this happens, the individual could start experiencing sharp pains when bending, exercising, twisting, coughing, or breathing deep.  To determine if intestinal adhesions are the problem, the doctor would order a series of blood tests and do x-rays, CAT scan, or MRI.

If surgery were required to remove the intestinal adhesions, Lysis would be performed.  For this, a Laparoscopy is done, which consists of two tiny incisions being made inside the belly button.  In one incision, the surgeon would pass a small instrument for cutting and in the other incision, a camera.  Using the camera as a guide and a monitor to see inside the intestines, the surgeon would locate the intestinal adhesions and with the other tool, make the appropriate cuts.  This procedure is done outpatient and healing is relatively quick.