Background: Postoperative intra-abdominal adhesions after GI surgery constitute a major burden for health care provision globally, causing chronic abdominal symptoms and necessitating repeated surgical intervention.
Objective: This systematic review examines safety and efficacy data for current anti-adhesion strategies after GI surgery.
Data sources: PubMed, Medline, and Embase databases were searched for randomized control trials and nonrandomized clinical studies of anti-adhesion products from January 1980 to October 2013.
Study selection: A list of predefined search terms was combined with the Cochrane Highly Sensitive Search Strategy to identify studies.
Intervention: The use of an anti-adhesion strategy was investigated.
Main outcome measures: The primary outcome was the safety profile of anti-adhesion products. Secondary outcomes included the analysis of the reduction in the incidence, extent, and severity of adhesions; incidence of bowel obstruction; quality-of-life data; and oncological outcomes.
Results: In total, 24 articles were included in the qualitative analysis: 17 randomized controlled trials and 7 nonrandomized studies, reporting on 5 anti-adhesion products. Data suggest that anti-adhesive products may be used safely; however, hyaluronic acid-based products should not be placed in contact with an anastomosis. The most studied product, a hyaluronic acid/carboxymethylcellulose membrane, reduces the incidence, extent, and severity of adhesions but without strong evidence of prevention of bowel obstruction.
Limitations: The size and quality of available studies varied greatly, reflected by the Jadad and MINORS scores. The majority of studies reported the use of a single product, hyaluronic acid/carboxymethylcellulose membrane.
Conclusions: Limiting adhesion formation after GI surgery is feasible. More evidence is needed regarding the efficacy in reducing chronic abdominal symptoms, repeated operative intervention, and improving quality of life.