Adhesives – What a pain!

Woe to the woman suffering from illness, incoherent illness. Although medicine and science have made great strides in the fight against many diseases, there is an illness that is rushed; shrouded in silence among many doctors. Far from being rare, this disease carries staggering statistics, yet the public at large is not interested in these – often debilitating – attachments. Adhesions, the body’s natural response to infection, inflammation or injury, are bands of scar tissue that can form inside the body, causing the internal organs to fuse.

* Over 93% of patients undergoing major abdominal or pelvic surgery develop adhesions. Adhesions, which are quite common, are known to form in as many as 60 to more than 90% of women undergoing gynecologic surgery.

In the medical world, attachments are first and foremost known to be an iatrogenic disorder — meaning caused by the physician or by medical treatment (or both) – prior to surgery. The surgeon rarely informs his patient of the risk of developing adhesions. For the lucky one who is not scheduled for surgery, the risk of attachments is still a concern. Adhesions may develop as a result of infection or inflammatory condition. Endometriosis, PID (inflammation of the pelvis), appendicitis, peritonitis, trauma to the body (including surgical trauma) and even radiation are all examples of health conditions or treatments that provide favorable conditions for the development of adhesions.

* Attachments were first documented in 1872 ….. yes, 1872, yet most people, when asked, have never heard of attachments. Thomas Bryant made the initial documentation when I reported death due to adherence-related bowel obstruction after gynecologic surgery. Over the next 130 years, attachments have maintained a prominent role in the medical literature, both as a subject of study and as a factor influencing various treatments and outcomes.

Although attachments have maintained a prominent role in medical literature as a study theme and a factor influencing various treatments and outcomes, attachments have mostly remained hidden from the public at large. The doctors may be studying, but they are sure they are not talking – at least not with their patients. When a person suffers from the dreaded disorder, attachments, it is probably the last thing on the list that a physician would cite as a probable cause for the pain and problems going on in the body. And more often than not, the condition will never be mentioned at all, even if the person may present all the symptoms of attachments or attachment-related disorder. This, of course, sends the sufferer wandering around the beautiful globe in search of a doctor who gives a great rat’s snort about their condition. On average, a woman suffers from 7-10 years of age, going in and out of medical offices in search of an answer to their pain and symptoms.

Adding insult to injury is the fact that attachments avoid the probing eye in standard medical tests, such as x-rays, scans, MRIs, etc. Diagnostic laparoscopy (minimally invasive surgery) is the only means of properly diagnosing attachments.

How can you determine if you might be suffering from attachments? Adhesive sufferers describe their pain as intense, stinging, sharp and / or pulling. Some sufferers cannot go vertically as attachments limit mobility. Simple movement such as bending and stretching can be compromised. Many sufferers experience frequent nausea, which often leads to vomiting. Many sufferers say they feel “worse” after eating a meal – even if they were hungry – often complaining about eating at all. When the bowel is involved in attachments, a bowel obstruction may occur. An intestinal obstruction is described as intense abdominal pain, nausea and often vomiting. An intestinal obstruction is a life-threatening emergency that requires immediate medical attention. (Remember, others may experience symptoms other than those described here.) In addition: although this article is aimed at women, men may also suffer from attachments. Trauma to the body (such as a stroke of the abdomen) surgery, or even a seat belt, can cause intestinal adhesions in men.

For the attached disorder, it is time for knowledge of this disorder to be at the forefront of medicine. For the doctor and the surgeon, it’s time to talk to your patient.


* Confluent surgically

* Bryant T. Clinical readings on bowel obstruction. With Tim Gaz 1872; 1: 363-5.