Word Picture: What are “Adhesions”?

by | Aug 1, 2016 | General Health, Humor

Getting back to things strictly medical, and perhaps informative, another illustration for those who wonder about medical terminology is in order. Time to discuss “Adhesions”.

What Are Adhesions?

Apologies may be required at first, as doctors tend to describe anatomical and pathological processes in terms that can be, well, unsavory. I call your intention to an early blog of mine on the topic of what makes a “medical person.” Part of the process is overcoming a certain squeamishness about body parts and bodily functions. This fact will be attested to by many a non-medical patron in a campus cafeteria, the mealtime experienced tainted by enthusiastic and disgusting conversations of First Year med students who have just left Gross Anatomy lab.

Or perhaps this disclaimer is no longer necessary?

Anyone can watch the most graphic and explicit videos of medical procedures on YouTube or the Discovery Channel. Not to mention, today’s movie fare is not lacking in, well, blood, guts, and dismemberment.

Well, anyway, here goes.

Many a patient has come to me having had or perhaps in need of an abdominal surgery procedure called, “lysis of adhesions.”  In general, this is the surgical interruption or removal of scar tissue in the abdominal or pelvic cavity that has “stuck things together.”

So what’s the big deal? The fact is, things in the gut don’t work as well when they are stuck to each other. Sometimes loops of bowel that get stuck together cause blockage. Like a kink in a loop of garden hose. That’s called “bowel obstruction” and adhesions can do this.

Here’s how it works (or doesn’t work).

It’s time here for a “food” analogy… medical people often describe disease stuff in terms of certain foods… take for example “cheese”…. particularly ricotta… when infected tissue dies (necrosis) it often creates a “caseating” mass from the Latin word for cheese: “caseus”…. but I digress). Today the topic is pasta.

You know when you cook that big pot of spaghetti and dump it in the colander all hot and fresh? It slithers around in the bowl quite well. Until it dries out some. Stuck. Hard to serve.

The intestines are just one long continuous tube of pasta piled into the abdominal cavity with freedom to slither and contract and move around to squeeze their contents along the path. Until something causes these loops to get stuck together, like a drying-out bowl of spaghetti.

Pain. Blockage. Sometimes more surgery to get them “unstuck”.

Bet you won’t go to Olive Garden tonight.