JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW

Barrier agents for preventing adhesions after surgery for subfertility

C Farquhar, P Vandekerckhove, A Watson, A Vail, D Wiseman
Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2000, (2): CD000475
10796548

BACKGROUND: Pelvic adhesions can be the result of inflamation, endometriosis or surgical trauma. Prevention of postoperative adhesions (either new or reoccurance) has been postulated by using barriers to prevent two surfaces being in contact. When pelvic surgery is being undertaken strategies to reduce pelvic adhesions occurring may be undertaken and these include barrier agents which are placed between the pelvic structures. Two synthetic barriers with differential characteristics are commercially available: oxidised regenerated cellulose (Interceed) and polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFC) (GoreTex).

OBJECTIVES: The objective of this review was to assess the effect of mechanical barriers (materials interposed between pelvic structures to prevent adherence of serosal surfaces) used during pelvic surgery in women of reproductive age on pregnancy rates, pelvic pain, or postoperative adhesion reformation.

SEARCH STRATEGY: The Cochrane Menstrual Disorders and Subfertility Group specialised register of controlled clinical trials was undertaken. In addition, companies were contacted for unpublished trials.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Randomised controlled trials or controlled clinical trials of barriers versus no treatment or other barriers in women undergoing fertility preserving pelvic surgery.

DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Reviewers assessed eligibility and trial quality.

MAIN RESULTS: 15 randomised controlled trials were included. Five trials randomised patients while the remainder randomised pelvic organs. Laparoscopy was the primary surgical technique in six trials while the remaining trials were laparotomy. Indications for surgery included myomectomy (five trials), ovarian surgery (four trials), pelvic adhesions (six trials), endometriosis (two trials) and mixed (one trial). Thirteen trials assessed Interceed versus no treatment, two assessed Interceed versus Gore-Tex, one trial assessed Gore-Tex versus no treatment, and one trial assessed Seprafilm versus no treatment. No study reported pregnancy or reduction in pain as an outcome. The use of Interceed in women was associated with reduced incidence of pelvic adhesion formation, both new formation and re-formation following laparoscopic surgery and after laparotomy. Gore-Tex was more effective than no barrier or Interceed in preventing adhesion formation. There was limited evidence that Seprafilm was effective in preventing adhesion formation in women following myomectomy.

REVIEWER'S CONCLUSIONS: The absorbable adhesion barrier Interceed reduces the incidence of adhesion formation, both new formation and re-formation, at laparoscopy and laparotomy, but there are insufficient data to support its use to improve pregnancy rates. Gore-Tex may be superior to Interceed in preventing adhesion formation but its usefulness is limited by the need for suturing and later removal. There was no evidence of effectiveness of Seprafilm in preventing adhesion formation.

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