Fluid and pharmacological agents for adhesion prevention after gynaecological surgery

Citations of this article
Mendeley users who have this article in their library.

This article is free to access.


Background: Adhesions are fibrin bands that are a common consequence of gynaecological surgery. They are caused by various conditions including pelvic inflammatory disease and endometriosis. Adhesions are associated with considerable co-morbidity, including pelvic pain, subfertility and small bowel obstruction. Patients may require further surgery - a fact that has financial implications. Objectives: To evaluate the role of fluid and pharmacological agents used as adjuvants in preventing formation of adhesions after gynaecological surgery. Search methods: The following databases were searched up to April 2014: Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), MEDLINE, EMBASE, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL) and PsycINFO. Studies involving hydroflotation, gel and such pharmacological agents as steroids, noxytioline, heparin, promethazine, N, O-carboxymethyl chitosan and gonadotrophin-releasing hormone agonists were evaluated. Selection criteria: Randomised controlled trials investigating the use of fluid and pharmacological agents to prevent adhesions after gynaecological surgery. Gels were defined as fluid agents. Data collection and analysis: Three review authors independently assessed trials for eligibility, extracted data and evaluated risk of bias. Results were expressed as odds ratios (ORs), mean differences (MDs) or standard mean differences (SMDs) as appropriate, with 95% confidence intervals (CIs). Main results: Twenty-nine trials were included (3227 participants), and nine were excluded. One study examined pelvic pain and found no evidence of a difference between use of hydroflotation agents and no treatment. We found no evidence that any of the antiadhesion agents significantly affected the live birth rate. When gels were compared with no treatment or with hydroflotation agents at second-look laparoscopy (SLL), fewer participants who received a gel showed a worsening adhesion score when compared with those who received no treatment (OR 0.16, 95% CI 0.04 to 0.57, P value 0.005, two studies, 58 women, I2 = 0%, moderate-quality evidence) and with those given hydroflotation agents (OR 0.28, 95% CI 0.12 to 0.66, P value 0.003, two studies, 342 women, I2 = 0%, high-quality evidence). Participants who received steroids were less likely to have a worsening adhesion score (OR 0.27, 95% CI 0.12 to 0.58, P value 0.0008, two studies, 182 women, I2 = 0%, low-quality evidence). Participants were less likely to have adhesions at SLL if they received a hydroflotation agent or gel than if they received no treatment (OR 0.34, 95% CI 0.22 to 0.55, P value < 0.00001, four studies, 566 participants, I2 = 0%, high-quality evidence; OR 0.25, 95% CI 0.11 to 0.56, P value 0.0006, four studies, 134 women, I2 = 0%, high-quality evidence, respectively). When gels were compared with hydroflotation agents, participants who received a gel were less likely to have adhesions at SLL than those who received a hydroflotation agent (OR 0.36, 95% CI 0.19 to 0.67, P value 0.001, two studies, 342 women, I2 = 0%, high-quality evidence). No studies evaluated quality of life. In all studies apart from one, investigators stated that they were going to assess serious adverse outcomes associated with treatment agents, and no adverse effects were reported. Results suggest that for a woman with a 77% risk of developing adhesions without treatment, the risk of developing adhesions after use of a gel would be between 26% and 65%. For a woman with an 83% risk of worsening of adhesions after no treatment at initial surgery, the chance when a gel is used would be between 16% and 73%. Similarly, for hydroflotation fluids for a woman with an 84% chance of developing adhesions with no treatment, the risk of developing adhesions when hydroflotation fluid is used would be between 53% and 73%. Several of the included studies could not be included in a meta-analysis: The findings of these studies broadly agreed with the findings of the meta-analyses. The quality of the evidence, which was assessed using the GRADE approach, ranged from low to high. The main reasons for downgrading of evidence included imprecision (small sample sizes and wide confidence intervals) and poor reporting of study methods. Authors' conclusions: Gels and hydroflotation agents appear to be effective adhesion prevention agents for use during gynaecological surgery, but no evidence indicates that they improve fertility outcomes or pelvic pain, and further research is required in this area. Future studies should measure outcomes in a uniform manner, using the modified American Fertility Society (mAFS) score. Statistical findings should be reported in full.




Ahmad, G., Mackie, F. L., Iles, D. A., O’Flynn, H., Dias, S., Metwally, M., & Watson, A. (2014, July 9). Fluid and pharmacological agents for adhesion prevention after gynaecological surgery. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. John Wiley and Sons Ltd. https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD001298.pub4

Register to see more suggestions

Mendeley helps you to discover research relevant for your work.

Already have an account?

Save time finding and organizing research with Mendeley

Sign up for free