Adhesion prevention in gynaecological surgery

Deborah Robertson, Guylaine Lefebvre
Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada: JOGC, Journal D'obstétrique et Gynécologie du Canada: JOGC 2010, 32 (6): 598-602

OBJECTIVES: To review the etiology and incidence of and associative factors in the formation of adhesions following gynaecological surgery. To review evidence for the use of available means of adhesion prevention following gynaecological surgery.

OPTIONS: Women undergoing pelvic surgery are at risk of developing abdominal and/or pelvic adhesive disease postoperatively. Surgical technique and commercial adhesion prevention systems may decrease the risk of postoperative adhesion formation.

OUTCOMES: The outcomes measured are the incidence of postoperative adhesions, complications related to the formation of adhesions, and further intervention relative to adhesive disease.

EVIDENCE: Medline, EMBASE, and The Cochrane Library were searched for articles published in English from 1990 to March 2009, using appropriate controlled vocabulary and key words. Results were restricted to systematic reviews, randomized control trials/controlled clinical trials, cohort studies, and meta-analyses specifically addressing postoperative adhesions, adhesion prevention, and adhesive barriers. Searches were updated on a regular basis and incorporated in the guideline to March 2009. Grey (unpublished) literature was identified through searching the websites of health technology assessment and health technology assessment-related agencies, clinical practice guideline collections, clinical trial registries, and national and international medical specialty societies.

VALUES: The quality of evidence was rated using the criteria described in the Report of the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care SUMMARY STATEMENTS: 1. Meticulous surgical technique is a means of preventing adhesions. This includes minimizing tissue trauma, achieving optimal hemostasis, minimizing the risk of infection, and avoiding contaminants (e.g., fecal matter) and the use of foreign materials (e.g., talcum powder) when possible. (II-2). 2. The risk of adhesions increases with the total number of abdominal and pelvic surgeries performed on one patient; every surgery needs to be carefully considered in this context. (II-2). 3. Polytetrafluoroethylene (Gore-Tex) barrier is more effective than no barrier or oxidized regenerated cellulose in preventing adhesion formation. (I). 4. Oxidized regenerated cellulose (Interceed) adhesion barrier is associated with a reduced incidence of pelvic adhesion formation at both laparoscopy and laparotomy when complete hemostasis is achieved. Oxidized regenerated cellulose may increase the risk of adhesions if optimal hemostasis is not achieved. (II-2). 5. Chemically modified sodium hyaluronate/carboxymethylcellulose (Seprafilm) is effective in preventing adhesion formation, especially following myomectomies. There is insufficient evidence on the effect of sodium hyaluronate/carboxymethylcellulose on long-term clinical outcomes such as fertility, chronic pelvic pain or small bowel obstruction. (II-2). 6. No adverse effects have been reported with the use of oxidized regenerated cellulose, polytetrafluoroethylene, or sodium hyaluronate/carboxymethylcellulose. (II-1). 7. Various pharmacological agents have been marketed as a means of preventing adhesions. None of these agents are presently available in Canada. There is insufficient evidence for the use of pharmacological agents in preventing adhesions. (III-C).

RECOMMENDATIONS: 1. Surgeons should attempt to perform surgical procedures using the least invasive method possible in order to decrease the risk of adhesion formation. (II-1B ). When feasible, for example, a laparoscopic surgical approach is preferable to an abdominal approach, and a vaginal or laparoscopic hysterectomy is preferable to an abdominal hysterectomy. 2. Precautions should be taken at surgery to minimize tissue trauma in order to decrease the risk of postoperative adhesions. These precautions include limiting packing, crushing, and manipulating of tissues to what is strictly required for safe completion of the procedure. (III-B). 3. Surgeons could consider using an adhesion barrier for patients who are at high risk of forming clinically significant adhesions (i.e., patients who have endometriosis or pelvic inflammatory disease or who are undergoing a myomectomy). If there is a risk of ongoing bleeding from the surgical site, oxidized regenerated cellulose (Interceed) should not be used as it may increase the risk of adhesions in this situation. (II-2B).

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