Adhesions can appear anywhere within the body, more commonly after abdominal and pelvic floor surgery; most patients experience post-surgery scarring. Adhesions caused by this scarring are often harmless, however can sometimes partially block the intestines; 60% of obstructed intestines are caused by adhesions. Symptoms can include bloating, vomiting, gas build up, constipation, and in bad cases extreme abdominal pain or cramping. If the intestine is completely obstructed by adhesion, it is life threatening and corrective surgery may be necessary.
Occasionally abdominal and pelvic adhesions in women block the uterus from receiving fertilised eggs, which may lead to infertility.
Less common complications of adhesions such as ureteral obstruction and urinary urgency may occur. Even rarer cases such as interference with chemotherapy and dialysis catheters have been reported. Existing adhesions may also complicate subsequent surgical procedures, but are not usually a problem.
Adhesions can be removed or reduced with robotic surgery or laparoscopy. One of the most effective solutions is operative laparoscopy, which has the ability to precisely remove adhesions with minimal scarring and no tissue damage. There are anti-adhesive agents that can be used at the time of surgery to reduce recurrence of the adhesions after surgery.