Microsurgical principles and postoperative adhesions: lessons from the past

Fertil Steril. 2016 Oct;106(5):1025-1031. doi: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2016.08.040.


"Microsurgery" is a set of principles developed to improve fertility surgery outcomes. These principles were developed progressively based on common sense and available evidence, under control of clinical feedback obtained with the use of second-look laparoscopy. Fertility outcome was the end point; significant improvement in fertility rates validated the concept clinically. Postoperative adhesion formation being a major cause of failure in fertility surgery, the concept of microsurgery predominantly addresses prevention of postoperative adhesions. In this concept, magnification with a microscope or laparoscope plays a minor role as technical facilitator. Not surprisingly, the principles to prevent adhesion formation are strikingly similar to our actual understanding: gentle tissue handling, avoiding desiccation, irrigation at room temperature, shielding abdominal contents from ambient air, meticulous hemostasis and lavage, avoiding foreign body contamination and infection, administration of dexamethasone postoperatively, and even the concept of keeping denuded areas separated by temporary adnexal or ovarian suspension. The actual concepts of peritoneal conditioning during surgery and use of dexamethasone and a barrier at the end of surgery thus confirm without exception the tenets of microsurgery. Although recent research helped to clarify the pathophysiology of adhesion formation, refined its prevention and the relative importance of each factor, the clinical end point of improvement of fertility rates remains demonstrated for only the microsurgical tenets as a whole. In conclusion, the principles of microsurgery remain fully valid as the cornerstones of reproductive microsurgery, whether performed by means of open access or laparoscopy.

Keywords: Postoperative adhesion formation; microsurgery; reproductive surgery.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Female
  • Fertility
  • Gynecologic Surgical Procedures / adverse effects*
  • Gynecologic Surgical Procedures / history
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • Humans
  • Infertility, Female / diagnosis
  • Infertility, Female / history
  • Infertility, Female / physiopathology
  • Infertility, Female / surgery*
  • Laparoscopy / adverse effects*
  • Laparoscopy / history
  • Microsurgery / adverse effects*
  • Microsurgery / history
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Risk Factors
  • Tissue Adhesions*
  • Treatment Outcome