What are adhesions?

Adhesions are strands of tissue that form in the body in response to injury. Abdominal cavity is one of the commonest sites where adhesions tend to form.

Laparoscopic surgery for abdominal adhesions

Laparoscopic surgery is an operation in which inside of the abdomen is examined by means of a telescope called a laparoscope. The operation is performed by making two or three small punctures (about 0.5 to 1 cm in size) on the abdomen – i.e., without making a big incision. In fact, no other test or investigation can diagnose adhesions with certainty – looking for them through a laparoscope is the only way confirming their presence. If the surgeon encounters adhesions, they can be easily divided using long laparoscopic instruments. The procedure is called adhesiolysis. A patient recovers quickly after laparoscopic surgery for adhesions as he / she has very little pain.

What happens after the operation?

How soon you are allowed to drink liquids and eat food after your adhesiolysis operation depends on the extent of adhesiolysis. Generally, you will be allowed to drink fluids within 6 – 8 hours after the operation. You may be given a saline drip for that period. In the first 12 – 16 hours after recovery you may experience some nausea, but this soon passes away.

What about the pain after surgery?

After any laparoscopic operation there is some pain at the site of the cuts for a few days. With the laparoscopic operation this is much less as compared to the open operation. You will be prescribed medicines to control the pain. Also, you will be encouraged to get out of the bed soon after the operation despite the slight discomfort. Over a period of time the pain will gradually reduce and become almost negligible.

How soon can I resume work?

This depends very much on the nature of the job you do and the type of operation you have had. Most patients are able to return to light desk job within 8 – 10 days after surgery and almost all activities will be permitted after about 15 days after surgery.

What are the risks of laparoscopic adhesiolysis?

  • Any operation may be associated with complications. The primary complications of any operation are bleeding and infection, which are uncommon with laparoscopic adhesiolysis.
  • There is a small risk of injury to the intestines which may be stuck to the scar of previous surgery. In the hands of surgeons experienced in laparoscopic surgery, however, this risk is negligible. In case this happens, the surgeon may take a decision to convert the operation to an open one. 

Can adhesions reform?

It is impossible to predict whether a person will have recurrent problems with adhesions after an operation. If he / she has had adhesions after previous surgery it is likely that they may occur again. In fact, adhesions are also known to form after surgery undertaken to tackle existing adhesions. It must be remembered that adhesions are far more likely to form after an open operation than after a laparoscopic one. It is for this reason that laparoscopic adhesiolysis is the best form of treatment for patients suspected to have adhesions.

What are the advantages of laparoscopic adhesiolysis?

  • Less pain from the incisions after surgery
  • Shorter hospital stay
  • Shorter recovery time
  • Faster return to normal diet
  • Faster return to work or normal activity
  • Better cosmetic healing
  • Lower chance of re-formation of the adhesions