Adhesions are lumps of scar tissue that form inside your body. Previous surgeries cause about 90 percent of abdominal adhesions. They can also develop from trauma, infections, or conditions that cause inflammation.

Adhesions can also form on the organs and cause organs to stick together. Many people with adhesions don’t experience any symptoms, but some people may have discomfort or digestive problems.

Abdominal adhesiolysis is a type of surgery that removes these adhesions from your abdomen.

Adhesions don’t show up on conventional imaging tests. Rather, doctors often discover them during diagnostic surgery when investigating symptoms or treating another condition. If the doctor finds adhesions, adhesiolysis may be done.

In this article, we’re going to look at who might benefit from abdominal adhesiolysis surgery. We’ll also look at the procedure and what specific conditions it may be used to treat.

Abdominal adhesions often don’t cause noticeable symptoms. Adhesions often go undiagnosed because they aren’t visible with current imaging methods.

However, for some people, they can cause chronic pain and abnormal bowel movements.

If your adhesions are causing problems, laparoscopic adhesiolysis can remove them. It’s a minimally invasive procedure. With laparoscopic surgery, your surgeon will make a small incision in your abdomen and use a laparoscope to locate the adhesion.

A laparoscope is a long thin tube that contains a camera and light. It’s inserted into the incision and helps your surgeon find the adhesions to remove them.

Laparoscopic adhesiolysis may be used to treat the following conditions:

Intestinal blockages

Adhesions can cause problems with digestion and even block the intestines. The adhesions can pinch off part of the intestines and cause a bowel obstruction. The obstruction may cause:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • an inability to pass gas or stool


Adhesions can cause female reproductive problems by obstructing the ovaries or fallopian tubes.

They can also cause painful intercourse for some people. If your doctor suspects adhesions are causing your reproductive issues, they may recommend surgery to remove them.


Adhesions can sometimes cause pain, especially if they’re blocking the bowels. If you have abdominal adhesions, you may also experience the following symptoms along with your pain:

  • nausea or vomiting
  • swelling around your abdomen
  • dehydration
  • cramps

Open adhesiolysis is an alternative to laparoscopic adhesiolysis. During open adhesiolysis, a single incision is made through the midline of your body so your doctor can remove the adhesions from your abdomen. It’s more invasive than laparoscopic adhesiolysis.

Abdominal adhesions can form from any type of trauma to your abdomen. However, they’re most commonly a side effect of abdominal surgery.

Adhesions caused by surgery are more likely to cause symptoms than other types of adhesions. If you don’t feel symptoms, they usually don’t need to be treated.

Infections or conditions that cause inflammation can also cause adhesions, such as:

Adhesions often form on the inner lining of the abdomen. They can also develop between:

  • organs
  • intestines
  • abdominal wall
  • fallopian tubes

Before the procedure, your doctor will likely perform a physical exam. They may also order a blood or urine test and request imaging to help rule out conditions with similar symptoms.

Before the surgery

Prepare for your surgery by arranging a drive home from the hospital following your procedure. You’ll also likely be advised to avoid eating or drinking on the day of your surgery. You may also need to stop taking certain medications.

During the surgery

You’ll be given general anesthesia so you don’t feel any pain.

Your surgeon will make a small incision in your abdomen and use a laparoscope to locate the adhesion. The laparoscope will project images onto a screen so your surgeon can find and cut out the adhesions.

In total, the surgery will take between 1 and 3 hours.


The surgery is minimally invasive, but there are still possible complications, including:

Adhesiolysis surgery may be used to remove adhesions from other parts of your body.

Pelvic adhesiolysis

Pelvic adhesions can be a source of chronic pelvic pain. Surgery usually causes them, but they can also develop from an infection or endometriosis.

Hysteroscopic adhesiolysis

Hysteroscopic adhesiolysis is a surgery that removes adhesions from inside the uterus. Adhesions can cause pain and complications with pregnancy. Having adhesions in the uterus is also called Asherman syndrome.

Epidural adhesiolysis

After spinal surgery, fat found between the outer layer of the spinal cord and vertebrae can be replaced with adhesions made of tough fibrotic tissue that can irritate your nerves.

Epidural adhesiolysis helps remove these adhesions. Epidural adhesiolysis is also known as the Racz catheter procedure.

Peritoneal adhesiolysis

Peritoneal adhesions form between the inner layer of the abdominal wall and other organs. These adhesions might appear as thin layers of connective tissue containing nerves and blood vessels.

Peritoneal adhesiolysis aims to remove these adhesions and improve symptoms.

Adnexal adhesiolysis

An adnexal mass is a growth near the uterus or ovaries. They’re often benign, but in some cases, they may be cancerous. Adnexal adhesiolysis is a surgical method to remove these growths.

You may have discomfort around your abdomen for about 2 weeks. You should be able to return to regular activities in 2 to 4 weeks. It may also take several weeks for your bowel movements to become regular again.

To improve your recovery from abdominal adhesiolysis surgery, you can:

  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Avoid intense physical activity.
  • Talk to your doctor about foods you should avoid.
  • Wash the surgical wound daily with soapy water.
  • Call your doctor or surgeon immediately if you have signs of an infection, such as fever or redness and swelling at the incision site.

Many people with abdominal adhesions don’t experience any symptoms and don’t require treatment.

However, if your abdominal adhesions are causing pain or digestive issues, your doctor may recommend abdominal adhesiolysis to remove them.

Getting a proper diagnosis is the best way to know if your discomfort is caused by adhesions or another condition.