, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp 161-168
Date: 03 Aug 2007

Postoperative abdominal adhesions and their prevention in gynaecological surgery. Expert consensus position

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Adhesions are the most frequent complication of abdominopelvic surgery, yet many surgeons are still not aware of the extent of the problem and its serious consequences. While adhesions may cause few or no detrimental effects to patients, in a considerable proportion of cases there are major short- and long-term consequences, including small-bowel obstruction, infertility and chronic pelvic pain. Adhesions complicate future surgery with important associated morbidity and expense—and a considerable risk of mortality. Despite advances in surgical techniques in recent years, the burden of adhesion-related complications has not changed. Adhesions should now be considered the most common complication of abdominopelvic surgery. Adhesiolysis remains the main treatment, despite the fact that adhesions reform in most patients. Developments in adhesion-reduction strategies and new agents now offer a realistic possibility of reducing the risk of adhesions forming and can improve the outcomes for patients and the associated onward burden. This consensus position represents the collective views of 35 gynaecologists with a recognised interest in adhesions. The position is presented in two parts. The first part reviews the published literature on the extent of the problem of adhesions, and the second part considers the opportunities to reduce their incidence. It also provides collective proposals on the actions that European gynaecologists should take to avoid causing adhesions. Importantly it also advises that it is now time to inform patients of the risks associated with adhesion-related complications during the consent process. With increasing evidence to support the efficacy of adhesion-reduction agents to complement good surgical practice, all surgeons should act now to reduce adhesions and fulfil their duty of care to patients.