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How Common are Adhesions After Hysterectomy?

By T. Webster
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Developing adhesions after hysterectomy surgery is quite common, even when measures are taken to prevent them from occurring. Medical studies estimate that as many as 55 percent to 100 percent of patients with pelvic surgery will develop adhesions. This can happen when scar tissue develops or when the protective tissue around internal organs is disturbed during surgery.

The protective coating around internal organs allows them to move around slightly without sticking to other organs or the abdominal wall. If the protective coating is disturbed, an organ can develop tissue to help protect it. This can cause an adhesion. Adhesions also can happen as scar tissue forms as part of the healing process following surgery.

Adhesions after hysterectomy surgery usually do not cause symptoms. Some adhesions are discovered only after an additional abdominal surgery. The most common problem caused by adhesions is pain.

A hysterectomy is a surgery that involves removing the uterus and sometimes other reproductive organs. Female reproductive cancers and benign fibroid tumors are two common reasons why hysterectomies are performed. Fibroid tumors can grow to the size of an orange or larger, causing pain or excessive menstrual bleeding, which can lead to other health problems. Hysterectomies often are performed when medication or other treatment does not correct problems caused by fibroid tumors or endometriosis, a condition in which the uterine lining grows outside of the uterine cavity.

Endometriosis can increase the risk of having adhesions. First of all, the endometriosis itself can cause adhesions when the uterine lining grows outside the uterine wall. In some cases, a hysterectomy surgery can worsen the adhesions.

The extent of the surgery and the skill of the surgeon can both influence the likelihood of developing adhesions after hysterectomy surgery. Care is taken by the surgeon to treat internal organs as delicately as possible. Additionally, the surgeon might place a mesh-like material over the organs to prevent them from adhering. A saline solution or a spray gel also can help prevent adhesion after hysterectomy surgery.

Symptoms that can develop from adhesions after having a hysterectomy surgery are intestinal obstructions and abdominal cramps or pain. Nausea, vomiting, fever and dehydration also can develop. These symptoms are not necessarily proof of adhesions after a hysterectomy surgery. Only a doctor can determine the cause behind these symptoms and whether they are being caused by adhesions.

When adhesions after hysterectomy surgery are causing complications, another surgical procedure might be required. This involves a surgical procedure to help dissolve adhesions. This is a tricky prospect, because new adhesions can occur even after the corrective surgery.

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Discussion Comments
By anon1006171 — On Feb 08, 2022

My surgeon told me that adhesions were possible if you’ve had multiple GYN procedures within a short period. The scar tissue forms quicker the more procedures you’ve had and within a shorter time period. Mine was 3 surgeries within 6 months. I hope this helps.

By anon998429 — On Jun 10, 2017

I had laparoscopic surgery by cutting right under my navel. A second smaller incision for a second instrument was made, so small, there was one tiny stitch. The gas was used to float my abdominal wall and the adhesions were cut, but only the ones that were creating the havoc. like partial bowel blocks from having the bowel slide behind sheets for weeks on end causing starvation. My teeth were loose, and I lost 20 percent of my bone density. So the surgery was extremely successful, and because of the minimal invasion, the result lasted over 15 years. I got a new issue when I had a groin pull that started it up in 2012 but it is not as severe. No one will touch it now. You have to get a gynecologist to do it and they are loathe to do it as there are no female parts left to play with. Too bad, as it saved my life. Really. I now have a polyp and guess what -- the scar tissue is stopping them from accessing it. So now I wait to see what they will do as they don't know if it will turn to cancer. Betty

By anon355172 — On Nov 14, 2013

I've been suffering with adhesions for over 10 years. I've had over 20 surgeries to have them removed! I could have two or three per year. My surgeon put an adhesion barrier in and it helped, but unfortunately I had to have my gallbladder and appendix removed, which caused further adhesion, again I had the barrier put in and I got 18 months pain free.

In July of this year I had to have a hysterectomy. Now six months on, I'm back to square one, with extremely bad pain and I'm back on a morphine patch, so I guess I'll be having the barrier in again soon.

I would recommend it if you are having the adhesions divided request an adhesion barrier. It really helps stop the recurrence of the adhesions. I was just unlucky I had to have other surgeries that caused the adhesions to re-form. Best of luck to you all. --L.G.

By anon346938 — On Sep 02, 2013

I had a hysterectomy seven months ago and am now having severe cramping and pain in my lower abdomen. The doctor suspects adhesions, but I am afraid if one surgery caused them, that having an additional surgery may cause them to grow again and I'll be no further ahead.

However, since the hysterectomy, I have not been able to return to my normal activity level due to pain. This has caused a lot of frustration and some depression and if there is a chance I may be "normal" again, it may be worth it.

By anon287353 — On Aug 25, 2012

I have been going through the same thing for three years now. I had the exploratory surgery, but my cruel doctor did not do anything but explore. She didn't even try to do any cutting of the adhesions, which made my pain worse.

I don't know who to go to. I understand that adhesions just regrow. I have been researching a lot online and am finding out about a product that is used in Europe, that prevents them from regrowing. Mostly I heard about Germany.

By turquoise — On May 26, 2012

@turkay1--I have hope that as medical technology improves, these adhesions following a hysterectomy will become less common.

There has already been some improvement in this area. Surgeons are now able to insert special tools into organs to help get rid of and prevent future adhesions. What adhesions do is they grow long and attach themselves to various organs, tagging on them with or without physical movement by the patient and causing pain. These special tools snap away adhesions and keep them from reattaching during hysterectomy recovery.

Some physical therapy instructors can also show you certain exercises to help stretch your abdominal area post-surgery. These stretches when done regularly, can prevent new adhesions from forming. Body-rolling is one exercise that is said to work really well. So adhesions are common, but ways to treat them are slowly developing too, don't lose hope.

By burcinc — On May 25, 2012

@turkay-- If the adhesions are not causing pain or creating other complications, they can be left alone. But if they cause pain, unfortunately, the only treatment is having them surgically removed.

I had a hysterectomy seven years ago, I developed pain from adhesions about three years later and I had them removed soon after. Not only are adhesions common after any surgery where organs are removed, unfortunately, they tend to return even after removal.

I know you're scared and don't want to go through another surgery, but it might be necessary. It's been four years after my adhesion surgery, and I haven't had pain or any other symptoms showing they came back as of yet. I'm glad I had them removed because they had become intertwined in other organs and would have continued to cause me pain.

So no one knows if the adhesions will definitely return, or how long they will take to develop. It's definitely a risk and you need to weigh the options and make the best decision.

By candyquilt — On May 25, 2012

I had a hysterectomy six months ago and recently have developed horrible cramps and aches in my lower abdomen. My doctor suspects that it's due to adhesions. He wants to open me up to see and wants to cut the adhesions out if they're there.

I understand that adhesions are common after hysterectomy. But can't anything else be done other than removing them surgically? If the risk of this surgery causing adhesions is high, I don't think I should go through it. Recovery after the hysterectomy was hard enough, I can't keep having surgery every six months!

Is anyone else dealing with post-hysterectomy adhesions right now? What do you think about adhesion removal surgery?

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