What are colon adhesions?

Colon adhesions are bands of scar tissue that form after infection, bleeding, surgery, or trauma. These bands of tissue are sticky and can cause internal organs to stick to each other or to surrounding tissue. Colon adhesions can lead to intestinal blockages and infections, serious conditions that require medical attention.

The most frequent occurrence of colonic adhesions occurs after abdominal surgery. Adhesions take four to six weeks to develop and can remain in place, without causing symptoms, for years. Of all the people who develop colon adhesions, about a third of them will experience pain and other symptoms.

It is not fully understood why some people develop colonic adhesions and others do not. Some people may be genetically predisposed to developing adhesions. Factors such as the type of surgical procedure used, the type of gloves used by the surgeon, and whether the organs dry out during surgery can have an impact on the development of adhesions.

The main symptom of colon adhesions is pain in the abdomen or pelvic area. This pain is often confused with other health conditions, such as diverticulitis, endometriosis, and appendicitis. Symptoms that adhesions have created a bowel obstruction include nausea, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, bloating of the abdomen, and the inability to pass gas or defecate, along with abdominal cramps.

Colon adhesions can lead to serious health complications. Adhesions can cut off the blood supply to the affected area of ​​the colon and lead to tissue death. Perforations may also develop in the affected area, creating an opening for infection. Peritonitis is the term used for infections that develop in the abdominal cavity. These infections are life-threatening and require immediate medical attention.

Symptoms of peritonitis include the inability to pass waste or gas, decreased urine output, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, fever, chills, thirst, and abdominal tenderness, swelling, and pain. Treatment for peritonitis is aggressive, to stop the spread of infection. Treatment includes antibiotics to fight the existing infection and often surgery to remove the source of the infection.

Despite the problems associated with colonic adhesions, they are generally not treated unless they are causing pain or chronic obstructions. Treatment for adhesions is surgical removal, which can lead to the development of additional adhesions. Care during surgery can minimize the development of adhesions. Using starch- and latex-free gloves, performing laparoscopic surgery instead of traditional abdominal surgery, which creates a large opening, doesn't allow organs and tissues to dry out, and shortens surgical time can reduce the likelihood of developing adhesions.

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