Visceral mobilization can lyse and prevent peritoneal adhesions in a rat model

J Bodyw Mov Ther. 2012 Jan;16(1):76-82. doi: 10.1016/j.jbmt.2011.02.004. Epub 2011 Apr 9.


Objective: Peritoneal adhesions are almost ubiquitous following surgery. Peritoneal adhesions can lead to bowel obstruction, digestive problems, infertility, and pain, resulting in many hospital readmissions. Many approaches have been used to prevent or treat adhesions, but none offer reliable results. A method that consistently prevented or treated adhesions would benefit many patients. We hypothesized that an anatomically-based visceral mobilization, designed to promote normal mobility of the abdominal contents, could manually lyse and prevent surgically-induced adhesions.

Material and methods: Cecal and abdominal wall abrasion was used to induce adhesions in 3 groups of 10 rats (Control, Lysis, and Preventive). All rats were evaluated 7 days following surgery. On postoperative day 7, unsedated rats in the Lysis group were treated using visceral mobilization, consisting of digital palpation, efforts to manually lyse restrictions, and mobilization of their abdominal walls and viscera. This was followed by immediate post-mortem adhesion evaluation. The rats in the Preventive group were treated daily in a similar fashion, starting the day after surgery. Adhesions in the Control rats were evaluated 7 days after surgery without any visceral mobilization.

Results: The therapist could palpate adhesions between the cecum and other viscera or the abdominal wall. Adhesion severity and number of adhesions were significantly lower in the Preventive group compared to other groups. In the Lysis and Preventive groups there were clear signs of disrupted adhesions.

Conclusions: These initial observations support visceral mobilization may have a role in the prevention and treatment of post-operative adhesions.

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Wall / pathology
  • Abdominal Wall / physiology
  • Animals
  • Cecum / pathology
  • Cecum / physiology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Male
  • Massage / methods*
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Palpation / methods
  • Peritoneal Diseases / physiopathology
  • Peritoneal Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Peritoneal Diseases / therapy*
  • Physical Therapy Modalities
  • Rats
  • Rats, Long-Evans
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Tissue Adhesions / physiopathology
  • Tissue Adhesions / prevention & control*
  • Tissue Adhesions / therapy*