Friday, January 19, 2007

Previous surgery or abdominal infections cause adhesions

North America Syndicate
Dear Dr. Donohue: Six months ago, I had a burst appendix. I delayed too long in getting to a doctor when I had stomach pain. I went to surgery and spent about 10 days in the hospital with antibiotics because infection had spread from the burst appendix. Two weeks ago, I had another bout of stomach pain and had to go into surgery again for a blockage from adhesions. Did the infection cause the adhesions?
— F.T.
A. Adhesions are bands or strands of scar tissue. Scar tissue forms after all abdominal surgery. During surgery, handling abdominal tissues causes a degree of injury, and the body responds by forming scar tissue. Abdominal infections are another cause of adhesions. When an appendix bursts, millions of bacteria flood into the abdominal cavity. You had two good reasons for having adhesions.
Strands of scar-tissue adhesions can wrap around organs and the intestines. If a scar band encircles the small intestine tightly, it can stop the passage of food through it — an intestinal obstruction. The band has to be cut in order to free the intestine and permit food to pass through it.
People who are scheduled to have abdominal surgery don't have to worry they will eventually develop an intestinal obstruction. Even though scar tissue forms after almost all abdominal surgery, it only rarely wraps around the intestine to obstruct it.

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