Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Endometriosis Health Center

Font Size

Abdominal Pain Surgery of Little Value

Scar Tissue Surgery Doesn't Seem to Help Chronic Abdominal Pain
WebMD Health News

April 10, 2003 -- A new study shows that a common surgery for chronic abdominal pain doesn't actually seem to relieve the pain. Scar tissue in the abdomen is thought to be a common cause of chronic abdominal pain. But researchers say that doctors shouldn't recommend this surgery because the risks outweigh the benefits.

In the study, researchers looked at people with chronic abdominal pain who were found to have abdominal scar tissue (adhesions) during laparoscopic surgery -- a procedure in which a scope is inserted through several small holes in the abdomen. Half of these people then went on to have laparoscopic surgery to remove the scar tissue.

But the scar removal surgery appeared to have no effect on relieving chronic abdominal pain. The group that had only the original surgery -- without scar tissue removal -- had the same degree of pain relief.

The problem, says laparoscopic surgeon Dingeman Swank, MD, is that the rate of serious complications is relatively high with the scar removal surgery, and the patients who have it appear to fare no better than those who have diagnostic laparoscopy without removal of abdominal adhesions.

"We are not saying that diagnostic surgery should not be done, because in 5% to 7% of patients, causes for pain other than adhesions can be found and successfully treated," Swank tells WebMD. "But removing adhesions offers no benefits for patients."

Chronic abdominal pain is often difficult to diagnose and treat. And people with this condition often undergo many tests without a cause being found. Bands of scar tissue that attach to organs and other tissue can result from previous abdominal surgery, past infections, or endometriosis. Adhesions are believed to be a common cause of chronic abdominal pain, although many experts question this association.

But surgery to remove abdominal scar tissue is often the treatment of choice for chronic abdominal pain with no other known cause. But Swank says he began questioning the surgery's value after performing the procedure on some 200 patients.

"In this group of people with longstanding abdominal pain we had two deaths and a 10% incidence of serious complications, mostly bowel perforations," he says.

Today on WebMD

Endometriosis Overview
mature woman with serious expression
Distracted woman
healthtool pregnancy calendar
pelivic pain slideshow
estrogen gene
uterus and inlay of fibroids
woman talking to doctor
Doctor discussing screening with patient
young woman with thoughtful expression
contraceptive pills
Teenage girl with heat pad on stomach

WebMD Special Sections