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Intestinal Adhesions
Intestinal adhesions are bands of fibrous tissue that can connect the loops of the intestines to each other, or the intestines to other abdominal organs, or the intestines to the abdominal wall. These bands can pull sections of the intestines out of place and may block passage of food. Adhesions are a major cause of intestinal obstruction.

Adhesions may be present at birth (congenital) or may form after abdominal surgery or inflammation. Most form after surgery. They are more common after procedures on the colon, appendix, or uterus than after surgery on the stomach, gall bladder, or pancreas. The risk of developing adhesions increases with the passage of time after the surgery.

Symptoms
Some adhesions will cause no symptoms. If the adhesions cause partial or complete obstruction of the intestines, the symptoms one would feel would depend on the degree and the location of the obstruction. They include crampy abdominal pain, vomiting, bloating, an inability to pass gas, and constipation.

Diagnosis
X rays (computed tomography) or barium contrast studies may be used to locate the obstruction. Exploratory surgery can also locate the adhesions and the source of pain.

Treatment
Some adhesions will cause no symptoms and go away by themselves. For people whose intestines are only partially blocked, a diet low in fiber, called a low-residue diet, allows food to move more easily through the affected area. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to remove the adhesions, reposition the intestine, and relieve symptoms. But the risk of developing more adhesions increases with each additional surgery.

Prevention
Methods to prevent adhesions include using biodegradable membranes or gels to separate organs at the end of surgery or performing laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery, which reduces the size of the incision and the handling of the organs.

Additional Information on Intestinal Adhesions
The National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse collects resource information on digestive diseases for the Combined Health Information Database (CHID). CHID is a database produced by health-related agencies of the Federal Government. This database provides titles, abstracts, and availability information for health information and health education resources.

To provide you with the most up-to-date resources, information specialists at the clearinghouse created an automatic search of CHID. To obtain this information, you may view the results of the automatic search on Intestinal Adhesions.

If you wish to perform your own search of the database, you may access the CHID Online website and search CHID yourself.


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National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse
2 Information Way
Bethesda, MD 20892-3570
Email: nddic@info.niddk.nih.gov

The National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC) is a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). The NIDDK is part of the National Institutes of Health under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Established in 1980, the clearinghouse provides information about digestive diseases to people with digestive disorders and to their families, health care professionals, and the public. NDDIC answers inquiries, develops and distributes publications, and works closely with professional and patient organizations and Government agencies to coordinate resources about digestive diseases.

Publications produced by the clearinghouse are carefully reviewed by both NIDDK scientists and outside experts.

This e-text is not copyrighted. The clearinghouse encourages users of this e-pub to duplicate and distribute as many copies as desired.


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NIH Publication No. 04-5037
February 2004
http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/intestinaladhesions/index.htm

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