The sticky business of adhesion prevention in minimally invasive gynecologic surgery

Esther S. Han, Stacey A. Scheib, Kristin Patzkowsky, Khara Simpson, Karen Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Purpose of review: The negative impact of postoperative adhesions has long been recognized, but available options for prevention remain limited. Minimally invasive surgery is associated with decreased adhesion formation due to meticulous dissection with gentile tissue handling, improved hemostasis, and limiting exposure to reactive foreign material; however, there is conflicting evidence on the clinical significance of adhesion-related disease when compared to open surgery. Laparoscopic surgery does not guarantee the prevention of adhesions because longer operative times and high insufflation pressure can promote adhesion formation. Adhesion barriers have been available since the 1980s, but uptake among surgeons remains low and there is no clear evidence that they reduce clinically significant outcomes such as chronic pain or infertility. In this article, we review the ongoing magnitude of adhesion-related complications in gynecologic surgery, currently available interventions and new research toward more effective adhesion prevention. Recent findings: Recent literature provides updated epidemiologic data and estimates of healthcare costs associated with adhesion-related complications. There have been important advances in our understanding of normal peritoneal healing and the pathophysiology of adhesions. Adhesion barriers continue to be tested for safety and effectiveness and new agents have shown promise in clinical studies. Finally, there are many experimental studies of new materials and pharmacologic and biologic prevention agents. Summary: There is great interest in new adhesion prevention technologies, but new agents are unlikely to be available for clinical use for many years. High-quality effectiveness and outcomes-related research is still needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)266-275
Number of pages10
JournalCurrent Opinion in Obstetrics and Gynecology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2017


  • barriers
  • complications
  • postoperative adhesions
  • prevention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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