Adhesions: Formation of scar tissue between bowel loops (small or large intestine) and the inner lining of the abdominal wall (peritoneal lining) or with other organs within the abdominal cavity (liver, gallbladder, uterus and its attached Fallopian tubes and ovaries, and urinary bladder).

Abdominal adhesions: Common cause of abdominal symptoms, particularly abdominal pain and can cause bowel blockages or obstruction.

Most common effects:

  • Abdominal pain and symptoms of intestinal obstruction.
  • Infertility in women.
    • Caused by adhesions involving the fallopian tubes, resulting in kinking and obstruction.
  • Symptoms caused by adhesions may vary from specific (typical) to non-specific.
  • Typical symptoms of obstruction:
    • Abdominal discomfort located around the belly button (umbilicus).
      • Cramp-like, followed by distention of the abdomen. Symptoms often are worsened by eating.
    • Reduction in the amount of flatus (gas) or stool that is passed.
    • With prolonged obstruction: nausea and vomiting.
    • When the obstruction is incomplete or intermittent, symptoms may be less severe with abdominal pain or cramping occurring only after meals.
      • Uncommon manifestation: primarily as nausea with or without vomiting, especially when the obstruction occurs in the proximal small intestine near the stomach. Take not that that most adhesions do not cause symptoms.


  • Physician may do/request:
    • History & Physical Exam
  • There are no tests that can clearly identify adhesions, but the pattern of obstruction often can be recognized on plain X-ray films of the abdomen by the presence of dilated loops of small intestine.
  • Other additional tests such as:
    • Contrast X-rays of the small intestine
    • Ultrasonography
    • Computerized tomography (CT)



  • Surgery – laparoscopic or open.

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