JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW

Fluid and pharmacological agents for adhesion prevention after gynaecological surgery

M Metwally, A Watson, R Lilford, P Vandekerckhove
Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2006 April 19, (2): CD001298
16625541

BACKGROUND: Pelvic surgery is associated with high rates of both de novo adhesion formation and adhesion reformation. Since subsequent fertility is reduced with increasing severity of periadnexal adhesions, pelvic adhesions will remain a clinical problem in infertility patients. Steroids, antihistamines and heparin were amongst the first substances to be advocated for adhesion prevention. More recently icodextrin 4%, hyaluronic acid agents and SprayGel have been used. This review aims to evaluate the role of fluid and pharmacological agents in the prevention of adhesions in fertility-conserving gynaecological surgery.

OBJECTIVES: To investigate fluid and pharmacological agents for adhesion prevention when used as adjuvants during pelvic surgery.

SEARCH STRATEGY: This review has drawn on the search strategy developed for the Menstrual Disorders and Subfertility Group. The following databases were searched: the Cochrane Menstrual Disorders and Subfertility Group Specialised Register, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), MEDLINE and EMBASE.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Randomised controlled trials investigating the use of fluid and pharmacological agents to prevent adhesion formation after fertility-conserving gynaecological surgery.

DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Data extraction and analysis was performed independently by two authors (Metwally M and Watson A). Two-by-two tables were generated for dichotomous outcomes and expressed as odds ratios (OR) with 95% confidence intervals (CI). For continuous outcomes a standardised mean difference was used.

MAIN RESULTS: There is no evidence of benefit from the use of steroids, dextran or other pharmacological agents in any of the outcomes. The use of hyaluronic acid agents may decrease adhesion formation (OR 0.31, 95% CI 0.19 to 0.51) and prevent the deterioration of pre-existing adhesions (OR 0.28 (95% CI 0.12 to 0.66). There is insufficient evidence for the use of icodextrin 4% or SprayGel as adhesion-preventing agents. None of the studied agents has been shown to improve the pregnancy rate when used as an adjunct during pelvic surgery.

AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: The current evidence for the use of fluid and pharmacological agents for the prevention of adhesions is limited. There is no evidence on any benefit for improving pregnancy outcomes when pharmacological and fluid agents are used as an adjunct during pelvic surgery. There is insufficient evidence for the use of the following agents: steroids, icodextrin 4%, SprayGel and dextran in improving adhesions following surgery. There is some evidence that hyaluronic acid agents may decrease the proportion of adhesions and prevent the deterioration of pre existing adhesions. However, due to the limited number of studies available, this evidence should be interpreted with caution and further studies are needed.

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