What are pelvic adhesions?

Adhesions are strands made of fibrous tissue or scar tissue that bind organs together. Usually, the internal organs in the body slide upon one another easily. If there are adhesions occurring from previous surgeries, organs cannot move easily and can bring about pain, discomfort and even bowel obstruction. If it happens with the reproductive organs, it can cause infertility.

Adhesions are usually caused by damage to the lining that is coating the abdomen and the pelvis. They don’t generally cause issues, yet when they do, they cause pain and infertility.

How do pelvic adhesions form?

The inside coating of the abdomen and pelvis, also known as the peritoneum, can be damaged during surgery or by different ways, such as infection. Inflammation can develop at the site of damage with pus cells and fluid. These cement to form a scar that you would normally see on any wound.

It isn’t clear exactly how these scars form, but it may be due to increased inflammation brought about by inflammatory cells and fluid in the area. The area thickens with inflammatory cells, which will later on form scars and thick bands, known as adhesions.

What are the causes of pelvic adhesions?

Previous surgery

There is an expanded risk of developing adhesions after abdominal and pelvic surgical procedures. The more invasive the procedure is, the more probable it is for adhesions to form. Stitches used can also develop into adhesions.


Inflammation might happen because of pelvic inflammatory disease, infections in the abdomen or the pelvis, or a ruptured appendix. It might likewise result from endometriosis.

How is it diagnosed?

It is hard to diagnose pelvic adhesions, since tests like conventional x-rays, blood tests or ultrasound cannot find them. They can be seen in laparoscopic surgery.

How are pelvic adhesions treated?

Pelvic adhesions are treated by laparoscopic surgery[link]. A laparoscopy is done by creating small cuts in the abdomen, into which slender instruments and a camera are inserted. Your doctor will view your uterus and fallopian tubes through a TV screen. You can also ask us here at Thomson Fertility Centre about your other options.


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