Another reader has submitted a question that we wanted to share with everyone. Read on to learn about diagnosing abdominal adhesions.
Q: I am experiencing a significant amount of abdominal pain and I think it is due to adhesions that formed after a surgery. How can I find out if I have adhesions? Do abdominal adhesions show on an MRI scan? – Edward
A: Hi Edward, this is an excellent question as adhesions can be difficult to diagnose through conventional means, often confounding both patient and physician. They do not appear on diagnostic tests such as MRI, x-ray, ultrasound or CT scan. As a result, when adhesions are suspected to be the cause of a patient’s pain or dysfunction, exploratory surgery is often used.
The surgery performed is typically a laporotomy or laporoscopy. Laparoscopy is a procedure in which a camera placed in the abdomen via a tube; this is the less invasive of the two surgery types. In an exploratory laparotomy, the surgeon makes an incision in the abdomen in order to examine the organs. The size and location of the incision varies depending on the specific concern. A surgeon will generally opt to perform a laparoscopy instead of a laparotomy when possible.
Our therapists use a different approach for identifying adhesions. The first step is always a thorough evaluation of the patient’s medical history, with a particular emphasis on surgeries. This information gives the therapist a significant amount of insight into potential areas of adhesion formation. Once treatment begins, the therapist palpates the body and regularly seeks the patient’s feedback about the specific areas that are tender or painful. Throughout this process, the therapist uses manual therapy techniques to decrease the bonds between adhesions and reduce their pull on pain-sensitive structures.