Adhesions and pregnancy

Like many who had surgery as a baby, I’ve been left with a few issues as a result.  Abdominal surgery at any age often leaves a bit of collateral damage, and when the surgery happens in infancy, this damage can grow with us.  The harm may be physical, cosmetic, or even emotional.

When I was just 10 days old I had surgery, caused by a stomach blockage, pyloric stenosis.  Discovering that I am not unique in having some “issues” as a result of this, and being in a position to do something about it, I started blogging here just over three years ago.

Adhesions 01One of the most common problems after abdominal surgery is the growth of adhesions, web-like inelastic scar tissue that can develop wherever the surgery went.  Adhesions may connect the abdominal wall to abdominal organs, link one abdominal organ to another, and sometimes obstruct them from working as they should.

Many of us have adhesions without being aware of them.  Virtually everyone who has had abdominal surgery will have adhesions, although in the great majority of people these will also remain unnoticed.  But a minority of former patients will be troubled by adhesions, some to the extent of choosing to have further surgery to get relief, all-too-often only temporary.

Such adhesions will be a special worry for those women who wonder how their already annoying or uncomfortable adhesions will behave when they are carrying a baby.

Will the abdominal surgery I had stop me from having a baby?

Most unlikely if the surgery had something to do with the gastric or food passage.  The scar and/or the adhesions may cause extra grief during a pregnancy, but they won’t stop it or damage the baby.

Will the surgery I had affect my pregnancy?

There is a small chance that adhesions will add to the discomfort and pain that are an expected part of most pregnancies.

The good news:
Good news bad news11)  From the published material it seems that only a small minority find that their surgical scar and/or the adhesions under it become more of an issue during their pregnancy, and those who do have found (as is usual) that every pregnancy is different also in this way.
2)  Although there may be unpleasant but understandable itching, stretching and tearing pain at or under the surgical scar, and some have reported a little bleeding, nothing more serious has been reported.  A mature scar is stronger than the surrounding abdominal wall and won’t tear open.  The stretching and bleeding will heal.
The bad news:
1)  If any of this happens to you it is hardly pleasant and it’s an unwelcome extra challenge during the long months of waiting and wondering.
2)  Count yourself privileged if you have a doctor or obstetrician who pays attention to this aspect of your pregnancy.  Because there is no easy “fix” for adhesion pain most medical people won’t want to hear or say much about it.  Be prepared for a brush-off.  Be content with some pain relief.

What can I do to reduce the discomfort caused by my earlier surgery?

As mentioned, most doctors believe it’s best accepted.  Creams and massaging are worth a try.  There are more costly and specialised therapies advertised online which some have found very good but others not.

Considering mild pain relief as recommended by your doctor, exercising and keeping weight gain to a safe minimum are sensible options.

 *         *        *

Two and a half years ago I wrote a more detailed post about this subject with some fear and trepidation for reasons that will be quite understandable.  How many males untrained in medical science would take it upon themselves to write a post on the effect of abdominal adhesions on a pregnancy?

boy writing1Yet this 2011 post has become by far the most read one of the 160 I have written about some of the issues that can arise from infant surgery later in life.  WordPress, the host of my blog, has encouraged me to revisit the subjects of my most read posts, so with a new year, I offer the above points as a summary and a lead-in.  I have not repeated most of what I wrote in the 2011 post on adhesions and pregnancy.

The 2011 post was the 4th of a series dealing with the problems adhesions can sometimes cause after abdominal surgery.  If this is an “issue” for you (the reader), I suggest you follow the link (click on the highlighted words) above and read all 4 posts and other readers’ valuable first-hand Comments on their subjects.  The “Categories” and “Tags” boxes on the right of this page will help you locate other posts that may be of help.

Communication04Many have found this blogsite to be a good place for getting information about a list of possible issues around infant surgery – especially the treatment and possible effects of infant pyloric stenosis, the most common reason for life-saving infant surgery.

You won’t get personal professional advice about your particular medical problem here, of course.  But this blog wants to continue to give well-informed, responsible, and practical facts and experience-based advice about infant surgery and its possible effects.  I have brought this together from the writing and reports of thousands of not only medical professionals, but also from parents and the survivors of infant surgery who have posted their experiences and stories on the web.

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2 thoughts on “Adhesions and pregnancy

  1. Tasha Rafter

    5 years ago, I had a life saving surgery that left me with a huge surgical scar, extending from one side of my abdomen to the other. This scar has left me with a gruesome-looking / deformed abdomen. I’m currently 26 weeks pregnant, and I’ve been experiencing horrific adhesion pain as a result of my surgical scar. I’ve had the tearing, itching, burning, stabbing mentioned in this article. Since my scar goes across my belly button, I’ve had issues with fluid leakage from my belly button due to the tearing, and it is SO PAINFUL! Unfortunately, this article is being completely truthful when it comes to finding relief, as well as getting the cold shoulder from your physicians regarding your complaints, questions, and concerns. Lotions are a waste of time, seeing as the tearing occurs internally. For myself, pain meds (narcotics/opiates) are not an option, since I had become addicted to them in the past, due to serious spinal injuries, surgeries, and years of chronic pain resulting from my circumstances. I refuse to chance becoming addicted to these meds, but just because I once had a problem with them, does not mean you will 🙂 I would suggest only taking them when the pain becomes unbearable, which is usually in the evening when you’re trying to sleep, or when you experience a new tear. Up until today, I have found absolutely no relief for this adhesion pain. It’s amazing how creative we can become when we are experiencing enough discomfort. Lol! I was desperate this morning, as my scar had torn a lot last night while cleaning, which resulted in an agonizing sleepless night, and an unproductive morning. I suddenly thought to pick up a roll of medical tape used to hold gauze on a wound or to hold a broken finger or toe in place. I pinched my skin together on both sides of my scar, and taped it the entire way across, which has given me UNBELIEVABLE relief from the pulling, tugging, stabbing, pain that a torn adhesion can cause. Instead of all of the pressure being on the scar, which causes the tearing and stabbing, the pressure has been transferred to the healthy skin surrounding my scar, which is not painful at all! It causes a little “discomfort”, considering the tape tugs on the skin from holding it into place, but NO PAIN! Please give this a try! I’m not sure how long it will work for me, or if it will work for you, but it is worth a shot ! It is the one thing that has brought me the slightest amount of relief, since the pain first started. I’d love to hear your feedback! Thank you for posting this article! I feel a little better having some knowledge behind this issue!

    Reply
  2. Fred Vanderbom Post author

    Thanks Tasha, for telling us something of your story here, as well as the novel and effective remedy to your pain! The “fix” you hit on may sound bizarre but it’s quite logical as you explain – and successful, and that’s what matters. I’m sure we’ll have others trying it and I trust they give us their feedback. Best wishes for your pregnancy and as you no doubt face other challenges.

    Reply

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