Adhesions, General and After Surgery
An adhesion is a band of scar tissue that binds two parts of tissue or organs together. Adhesions may appear as thin sheets of tissue similar to plastic wrap or as thick fibrous bands.
The tissue develops when the body's repair mechanisms respond to any tissue disturbance, such as surgery, infection, trauma, or radiation. Although adhesions can occur anywhere, the most common locations are within the abdomen, the pelvis, and the heart.
Abdominal adhesions: Abdominal adhesions are a common complication of surgery, occurring in up to 90% of people who undergo abdominal or pelvic surgery. Abdominal adhesions also occur in a small number of people who have never had surgery.
Pelvic adhesions: Pelvic adhesions may involve any organ within the pelvis, such as the uterus, ovaries, Fallopian tubes, or bladder, and usually occur after surgery, such as after C-section or hysterectomy. Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) results from an infection (usually a sexually transmitted disease) that frequently leads to adhesions in and around the Fallopian tubes. A woman's eggs pass through her Fallopian tubes into her uterus for reproduction. Fallopian adhesions can lead to infertility and increased incidence of ectopic pregnancy in which a fetus develops outside the uterus.
Heart adhesions: Scar tissue may form within the membranes that surround the heart (pericardial sac), thus restricting heart function. Infections, such as rheumatic fever, may lead to adhesions forming on heart valves and leading to decreased heart efficiency.
Eugene Hardin, MD, FACEP, FAAEM
Christopher R Westfall, DO
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