Role of the peritoneal cavity in the prevention of postoperative adhesions, pain, and fatigue

The prevention of postoperative adhesions should combine gentle tissue handling and peritoneal conditioning during surgery and a barrier and dexamethasone after surgery.

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Volume 106, Issue 5, Pages 998-1010


Philippe R. Koninckx, M.D., Ph.D., Anastasia Ussia, M.D., Leila Adamyan, M.D., Ph.D., Victor Gomel, M.D., Ph.D.


A surgical trauma results within minutes in exudation, platelets, and fibrin deposition. Within hours, the denuded area is covered by tissue repair cells/macrophages, starting a cascade of events. Epithelial repair starts on day 1 and is terminated by day 3. If repair is delayed by decreased fibrinolysis, local inflammation, or factors in peritoneal fluid, fibroblast growth starting on day 3 and angiogenesis starting on day 5 results in adhesion formation. For adhesion formation, quantitatively more important are factors released into the peritoneal fluid after retraction of the fragile mesothelial cells and acute inflammation of the entire peritoneal cavity. This is caused by mechanical trauma, hypoxia (e.g., CO2 pneumoperitoneum), reactive oxygen species (ROS; e.g., open surgery), desiccation, or presence of blood, and this is more severe at higher temperatures. The inflammation at trauma sites is delayed by necrotic tissue, resorbable sutures, vascularization damage, and oxidative stress. Prevention of adhesion formation therefore consists of the prevention of acute inflammation in the peritoneal cavity by means of gentle tissue handling, the addition of more than 5% N2O to the CO2pneumoperitoneum, cooling the abdomen to 30°C, prevention of desiccation, a short duration of surgery, and, at the end of surgery, meticulous hemostasis, thorough lavage, application of a barrier to injury sites, and administration of dexamethasone. With this combined therapy, nearly adhesion-free surgery can be performed today. Conditioning alone results in some 85% adhesion prevention, barriers alone in 40%–50%.

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Fertility and Sterility

Editorial Office, American Society for Reproductive Medicine

Fertility and Sterility® is an international journal for obstetricians, gynecologists, reproductive endocrinologists, urologists, basic scientists and others who treat and investigate problems of infertility and human reproductive disorders.