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How Do Abdominal Adhesions Form?

How Do Abdominal Adhesions Form?

Abdominal adhesions are among the most common causes of symptoms involving the abdominal area. More specifically, they are the most common reason for blockage and obstruction of the bowels.


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What Are Abdominal Adhesions?

Abdominal adhesions refer to fibrous scar tissue that forms inside the abdominal area, particularly between the small or large intestine, the inner lining of the abdominal wall, and even with other organs located within the abdominal cavity, such as the liver, gallbladder, bladder, uterus, and even the fallopian tubes and ovaries. This scar tissue then creates blockages that can cause discomfort and even abdominal pain from the blockage caused by the scarring.


The small intestine is around 7 feet in length and the large intestine (called “large” for its diameter and not its length) is about 5 feet in length. Combined, almost 12 feet in length, in order to fit inside the body, the intestines form loops in order to fit inside the abdominal cavity. The intestines typically move freely within the abdominal cavity, easily sliding over one another and other organs with a thin lubricating fluid. However, when abdominal adhesions begin to form, the intestines and other organs in the abdominal cavity are no longer able to move freely. They become tethered to one another and can create blockages and even become so twisted that they prevent the flow of blood to vital organs.

Why do Abdominal Adhesions Form?

Abdominal adhesions form for a variety of reasons. The most common cause occurs following surgery to organs in and around the abdominal area, including the colon, appendix uterus, gallbladder, stomach, and pancreas. Following these surgical procedures, inflammation occurs on the surface of the organs in the abdominal cavity or the inner lining of the abdominal cavity. As a result of the body’s normal healing process, fibrous scar tissue begins to form. Since it may take a while for the scar tissue to build up in the abdominal cavity to where it actually begins to obstruct or impact your body, the symptoms from abdominal adhesions are sometimes not felt for months or even years following a procedure.

Symptoms of Abdominal Adhesions

Most people do not feel symptoms as the result of abdominal adhesions. However, in the case where they may be an obstruction in the intestines, one may experience the following symptoms:


• Abdominal cramping, bloating and discomfort, particularly increased after eating


• Constipation and the inability to pass gas, particularly caused from any obstruction in the bowels


• Nausea and vomiting


It is important to note abdominal adhesions affects women, in particular. It is believed that one of the potential impacts caused by abdominal adhesions includes infertility. This is caused where abdominal adhesions involve the fallopian tubes. This can cause the fallopian tubes to bend and twist, thereby preventing eggs to properly reach the uterus.

Diagnosis and Treatment OF Abdominal Adhesions

It is not uncommon for many people to develop abdominal adhesions, never experience any symptoms and have the adhesions go away on their own. For patients who experience some kind of blockage in the abdominal area, abdominal adhesions are often the cause. Currently, there are no simple tests to clearly identify and diagnose the presence of abdominal adhesions. Doctors utilize X-rays and barium contrast studies to determine where there may be an obstruction in the abdominal area.


Some patients may even opt for exploratory surgery to locate the adhesions and the source of the pain. Surgery, however, comes with additional risk of causing additional inflammation and the formation of more scar tissue.

Gastroenterologist in Los Angeles

If you or someone you know are currently experiencing any kind of abdominal discomfort on a regular basis, you can call the premier gastroenterologist in Los Angeles: Dr. Siamak Tabib today at (310)-652-4472 to schedule a free consultation. Dr. Tabib is an experienced gastroenterologist and has helped patients with abdominal adhesions find relief. There’s no reason to wait, contact us today!