Symptoms of Pelvic Adhesions
An infection, injury or a previous surgery can cause pelvic adhesions as a result of the body's attempt to heal itself. This can be described as a band of scar tissue that binds internal organs or body surfaces together. It can affect the reproductive organs as well as the bladder, bowel and ureter. Pelvic adhesions are a common problem that affects up to 93% of people who have undergone abdominal surgery.
Pelvic Adhesions and Infertility
Pelvic adhesions are a common result of pelvic inflammatory disease. Signs of pelvic inflammatory diseases that could result in pelvic adhesions include pain in the lower abdomen, foul-smelling discharge from the vagina, fever, nausea, painful urination and pain during sexual intercourse. This disease could cause scar tissue to build up in the fallopian tubes, ovaries and uterus that eventually turn in to pelvic adhesions. If these adhesions block the fallopian tubes, it could result in infertility. Women with pelvic adhesions are also at a high risk of experiencing an ectopic pregnancy and repeated miscarriages.
Pelvic Adhesions Symptoms and Complications
In many cases, pelvic adhesions are painless and asymptomatic. Many women are diagnosed with this condition only after they seek treatment for other issues such as infertility. In other cases, it may cause complications such as:
Pelvic adhesions are responsible for 60-70% of cases of bowel obstructions in adults. This causes chronic pelvic pain.
Adhesion Related Disorder (ARD)
ARD refers to a group of symptoms caused by pelvic adhesions. Some of these symptoms may be generalized and vague while others may be specific to one part of the abdomen. Thus, ARD can be difficult to diagnose. In many cases, it may be mistaken as signs of endometriosis, chronic fatigue syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, depression, anxiety and fibromyalgia.
Some of the symptoms include:
- Chronic abdominal pain
- Inability to pass gas
- Bowel obstruction
- Difficulty passing bowel movements
- Painful bowel movements
- Urinary bladder dysfunction
- Pain while sitting or lying in certain positions
- Pain while walking
- Thoughts of helplessness and suicide
- Constipation or constipation that alternates with diarrhoea
Can Abdominal Adhesions be prevented?
Abdominal adhesions are difficult to prevent. However, opting for minimally invasive surgical procedures instead of open surgery wherever possible can reduce the risk of these adhesions. In the case of open surgeries, inserting a special film-like material between organs can help hydrate the organs and keep adhesions from forming.