Congenital adhesion band causing small bowel obstruction: What’s the difference in various age groups, pediatric and adult patients?
Yang et al. BMC Surgery
Congenital adhesion band causing small bowel obstruction: What's the difference in various age groups, pediatric and adult patients?
Kwang-Ho Yang 0 1
Tae-Beom Lee 1
Si-Hak Lee 1
Soo-Hong Kim 1
Yong-Hoon Cho 0 1 2
Hae-Young Kim 1
0 Research Institute for Convergence of Biomedical Science and Technology, Pusan National University Yangsan Hospital , Yangsan , Korea
1 Department of Surgery, Pusan National University Yangsan Hospital , Yangsan , Korea
2 Department of Surgery, Pusan National University School of Medicine , Geumo-ro 20, Mulgeum-eup, 50612 Yangsan, Gyeongnam , Korea
Background: A congenital adhesion band is a rare condition, but may induce a small bowel obstruction (SBO) at any age. However, only a few sporadic case reports exit. We aimed to identify the clinical characteristics of congenital adhesion band manifesting a SBO stratified by age group between pediatric and adult patients. Methods: The medical records of all patients with a SBO between Jan 1, 2009 and Dec 31, 2015 were retrospectively reviewed. Cases associated with previous surgical procedure and cases of secondary obstruction due to inflammatory processes or tumor and other systemic diseases were excluded. The patients were divided into two groups according to age below or above 18 years: pediatric and adult. The basic clinical characteristics were analyzed and compared between groups. Results: Of 251 patients with a SBO, 15 (5.9%) met the inclusion criteria; 10 cases in pediatric group (mean age 17.9 ± 38. 7 months) and 5 cases in adult group (mean age 60.0 ± 19.7 years). The pediatric group (66.6%) included 3 neonates, 5 infants, and 2 school children. They usually presented with bilious vomiting (50.0%) and abdominal distention (60.0%), and demonstrated a high rate of early operation (80.0%) and bowel resection (70.0%). In contrast, the adult group (33.3%) presented with abdominal pain (100%) in all cases and underwent a relatively simple procedure of band release using a laparoscopic approach (60%). However, group differences did not reach statistical significance. In addition, two groups did not differ in the time interval to the operation or in the range of the operation (p = 0.089 vs. p = 0.329). No significant correlation was found between the time interval to the operation and the necessity of bowel resection (p = 0.136). There was no mortality in either group. Conclusions: Congenital adhesion band is a very rare condition with diverse clinical presentations across ages. Unlike adult patients, pediatric patients showed a high proportion of early operation and bowel resection. A good result can be expected with an early diagnosis and prompt management regardless of age.
Congenital adhesion band; Obstruction; Pediatric; Adult
Small bowel obstruction (SBO) remains a common
problem in the field of abdominal surgery. SBO may arise from
various causes including extrinsic (adhesion, hernia,
metastatic tumor, inflammatory processes, aneurysm,
and unusual endometriosis) or intrinsic processes (bowel
wall tumor, Crohn’s disease, intussusception, bezoar,
gallstone, and foreign body) . Postoperative adhesions are
the most common cause, accounting for nearly 80% of all
clinical cases, even with the advent of minimal invasive
surgery [2, 3].
SBOs not related to the above-mentioned conditions
are rarely encountered and one of the rarest causes of
intestinal obstruction is a congenital adhesion band,
previously referred to as an anomalous congenital band. A
congenital adhesion band is an intraperitoneal adhesion
that has no relation to an intra-abdominal process
(previous laparotomy, inflammatory diseases, peritonitis,
embryogenic remnants, etc.) and is considered to have
a congenital or de novo origin. Congenital adhesion bands
may cause a SBO by trapping an intestinal loop between
the band and the mesentery .
In general, the diagnosis of a SBO is dependent on a
focused history and basic physical examination. Although
imaging and laboratory studies are important adjuncts,
imaging studies are less useful for the diagnosis of a SBO
induced by a congenital adhesion band, and could result
in the delay of definite management for the SBO affecting
the prognosis. Thus, operations are more likely to be
needed for the diagnosis and treatment SBOs caused by a
congenital adhesion band.
Previous studies of congenital adhesion bands causing
SBOs consist of sporadic case reports of pediatric or adult
patients [5–8]. Therefore, the present study was conducted
to identify the clinical characteristics associated with
congenital adhesion band manifesting a SBO in different age
groups (adult and pediatric). Furthermore, the clinical
implications of the age-related findings are discussed.
A retrospective review of 251 patients managed for a
SBO at our institution between Jan 2009 and Dec 2015
was performed. Patients with a medical history of
previous surgery were excluded. In addition, cases which
occurred during an immediate postoperative course,
cases of secondary obstruction due to inflammatory
processes or tumor, and other systemic diseases were
excluded as well. The final sample consisted of 15
cases of SBO that met criteria for the diagnosis of a
congenital adhesion band. This study was approved by
the Institutional Review Board (IRB No. 05-2016-110)
and the data have been managed with personal
Data extraction and analysis
Clinical characteristics including demographics, clinical
presentations, preoperative radiologic studies, the time
interval to the operation, operative finding and surgical
procedure, and postoperative results were examined.
Classified patients by age below or above 18 years, the
pediatric and adult groups, then two groups were evaluated
for differences in clinical factors, including the time interval
to the operation and surgical procedure. In addition the
association between the time interval to the operation, early
vs. delayed operation (cases with conservative management
for more than 2 days) and the extent of surgical procedure
Statistical analyses were performed using IBM SPSS
Statistics v23 (IBM SPSS Statistics, Feltham, UK). In
addition, a Fisher’s exact test was performed to evaluate
the association between the time interval to the operation
and the extent of the operation. A p-value <0.05 was
During the study period, the incidence of a SBO due to
a congenital adhesion band was 5.9% (15/251). Ten patients
(66.7%) were in the pediatric group with a mean age 17.9 ±
38.7 months (3 neonates, 5 infants, and 2 children) and 5
patients (33.3%) were in the adult group with a mean age
60 ± 19.7 years. There was no sex predominance; the sex
ratio was 3:2 (male to female) in both groups (Table 1).
Bilious vomiting and abdominal distention were common
symptom in the pediatric group, presenting in more than
half of the patients (Table 2). A radiologic assessment other
than simple radiography was performed before the
operation for some pediatric cases; computed tomography (CT)
was performed in 5 cases, ultrasonography (US) in 1 case,
and a contrast barium study for colon in 2 cases. The time
interval to the operation after symptomatic presentation
was varied according to the clinical situations, with half of
the patients receiving a prompt surgical management. The
ileum was the most common location of the obstruction
(7/10, 70.0%) and the obstruction was caused by a
fibrotic band formed between the surrounding
mesentery. Moreover, there were complicated cases requiring
Table 1 Demographic findings
Neonate (<1 month)
Infant (1 month – 2 years)
Childhood (2 – 12 years)
Adolescent (12 – 18 years)
Adult patients (mean age 60 ± 19.7 years)
Table 2 Clinical presentations
a resection, including cases with a volvulus or
strangulation (4/10, 40.0%), and segmental resection was performed
in 7 cases (70.0%) (Table 3). There were no postoperative
All of the adult patients presented with abdominal pain
(Table 2). In the adult group, a surgical management
was determined after conservative care for several days.
For all patients, a CT scan was performed. The obstruction
was located in the ileum for all patients. The fibrotic band
arose from a sigmoid colonic wall in 2 cases. Surgical
management was relatively simple; only a band release
with a laparoscopic procedure was performed in 3 cases
(60.0%) and a segmental resection was performed in 2
Table 3 Pediatric group: clinical findings, surgical procedure and complication
cases (40.0%). Generally, a simple fibrotic band had
formed around the obstruction site (Table 4). There
were no postoperative complications.
Comparison between groups (Table 5)
The pediatric group tended to undergo surgery at an
earlier stage (clinical situations indicated conservative
management for no more than one day) and were more
likely to undergo segmental resection compared to the
adult group; however, the differences were not significant
(p = 0.089, 0.329 respectively). In addition, there was no
significant correlation between the time interval to the
operation and the necessity of bowel resection across all
patients (p = 0.136).
Although congenital adhesion bands are usually identified
in pediatric patients, they may give rise to a SBO at any
age. The incidence rate for congenital adhesion bands is
still uncertain. The incidence of adhesion without previous
operations has been reported to range from 3.3 to 28% as
determined by autopsy [9, 10]. Although the present study
is limited by regional restrictions, an incidence of 5.9% (15/
251) was found. The clinical manifestations of a congenital
adhesion band vary from a mild symptomatic presentation
to strangulation of the bowel, which requires a prompt
surgical procedure. However, a definite preoperative diagnosis
is difficult as there are no specific tests to diagnose a
I infant, N neonate, C childhood, CT computed tomography, US ultrasonography, SR segmental resection, BR band release
thin fibrotic band between ileal
mesentery and cecum
prompt surgery thick band at mesenteric base
extending to right upper abdominal
wall multiple thin interloop bands
prompt surgery band from mesenteric root
volvulus of terminal ileum SR
Contrast barium enema 2 months
fibrotic band at terminal ileum
Contrast barium enema 1 days
fibrotic band between mesenteric
root and distal ileum
prompt surgery fibrotic band at terminal ileum
volvulus of terminal ileum SR
prompt surgery multiple thin interloop bands
volvulus of jejunum
fibrotic band at terminal ileum
fibrotic band between mesenteric
root and jejunum
prompt surgery internal hernia due to fibrotic
band between mesenteric root
and distal ileum
Strangulation of ileum
Table 4 Adult group: clinical findings, surgical procedure and complication
Other radiologic study Interval to operation
Obstruction level Procedure
CT computed tomography, BR band release, SR segmental resection, L-BR laparoscopic band release
congenital adhesion band. Excluding other factors that may
cause intestinal obstruction is currently the best diagnostic
method. For these reasons, delayed diagnosis and treatment
frequently occur in patients with an intestinal obstruction
due to a congenital adhesion band. CT has been used to
exclude other diseases in many cases [11–13], as well as in
the present study. Ultimately, exploration is mandatory for
both diagnosis and treatment. Moreover, the diagnosis
depends on a high index of suspicious mechanical obstruction
especially for patients without a history of previous
The present study revealed several interesting clinical
features that varied according to age. With younger patients,
there was a greater tendency for cases to be complicated
with a volvulus or strangulation, and surgical management
was performed in the early stage. Moreover, the extent of
the surgical procedure was wider in the pediatric group
compared to that in adult group. However, no statistically
significant differences between the two groups were found.
Table 5 Comparison of the time interval to the operation, the
range of operation, and the correlation of the time interval to
the operation with bowel resection according to age group
Comparison variables Pediatric group, N
Time interval to the operation
Extent of surgical procedure
Relation with bowel resection
Early, cases performing operation at no more than one day; Delay, cases with
a conservative management for more than 2 days
BR band release, SR segmental resection
fibrotic band between mesenteric
base and sigmoid colon
fibrotic band between ileal
mesentery and terminal ileum
fibrotic band between ileal
mesentery and terminal ileum
thick fibrotic band between terminal ileum
ileum and sigmoid colon
fibrotic band between ileal
mesentery and distal ileum
This may have been due to the small number of cases in
each age group given the rarity of the clinical occurrence.
Previous studies have reported that the most common
anatomical location of a congenital adhesion band is
around the terminal ileum, followed by the mesentery
root, jejunum, liver, and omentum [5–8]. Consistent with
these previous studies, the present study also found that
in both age groups, the band was most commonly located
around the ileal mesentery and mesentery root. However
the location of band does not appear to affect the degree
of clinical presentation or the management.
The origin of congenital adhesion bands has an
embryologic basis, such as the persistent or incomplete regression
of the fetal vitelline circulation or a remnant of the ventral
mesentery theory, and may be associated with genetic
defects that impair embryogenesis [14–16]. In addition,
other factors may be related to the formation of the
band, such as an intrauterine mesothelioma trauma
. Congenital adhesion bands might be also a result
of intrauterine exposure to certain infectious agents or
ischemic events. Several reports have demonstrated
evidence for an immunological mechanism in both in-vitro
and in-vivo experiment [17–19]. Considering the
embryologic origin, we could assume that a congenital adhesion
band exists from birth and so may induce a clinical
presentation earlier. Although these factors could explain the
pediatric cases, they do not appropriately explain the adult
cases. Instead, the adult cases could be explained as a
de novo adhesions, which are shown in an autopsy
study [9, 20]. Thus, the difference in clinical features
between the age groups seen in the present study may
be related to the multifactorial processes underlying the
development of a congenital adhesion band.
Additionally, congenital adhesion bands may cause an
obstruction by an internal hernia, which has usually
been reported in sporadic pediatric cases [11, 21].
However, in the present study, clinical cases ranged from the
neonates to the elderly, and only one case of internal
hernia was in the pediatric group. The case with an
internal hernia showed a severe clinical situation with
strangulation of the involved segment, which required a
prompt surgical resection. The present study was slightly
different from previous studies with respect to
management, especially in the pediatric group, as there was a
tendency to perform an early operation and segmental
resection [4, 6]. This may have resulted from the
relatively high proportion of neonates and infants in the
pediatric group, because SBOs in these age groups are
associated with a high failure rate for conservative
management and typically proceed to surgical management
[22–24]. Furthermore, previous studies have reported
that the surgical management, which includes a bowel
resection, is higher for those with a younger age and a
longer time interval to the operation more than 2 days
. However, the present study revealed no significant
correlation between the time interval to the operation
and the necessity of bowel resection.
Recently, a laparoscopic procedure has been increasingly
used in cases of SBO with a high success rate (46 ~ 87%)
[26–31]. We have also tried a laparoscopic approach in a
few adult cases with good results, but have not tried this
approach in pediatric case due to a limited working space
and a high risk of bowel injury in pediatric patients.
However, a laparoscopic procedure could be an excellent
method for the diagnosis and subsequent management in
cases of a SBO caused by a congenital adhesion band.
Given the difficulties in diagnosis, it is necessary to
attempt a laparoscopic procedure aggressively in selective
cases regardless of age. Mortality associated with a SBO
has been reported to be less than 10% [32, 33]. A high
mortality rate is mainly related to a delay in diagnosis,
which has decreased over the years, and is also associated
with cases accompanying a severe underlying disease.
The present study has some limitations, mainly
concerning the number of cases, which came from a single center
experience with regional restrictions. However, considering
that congenital adhesion bands are an uncommon cause of
SBOs, the reported findings for the different age groups
provide valuable clinical information.
A congenital adhesion band comprises a broad spectrum
of disease with different etiologies. Although it is a very
rare condition with diverse clinical presentations across
age groups, a good result can be expected with an early
diagnosis and prompt management. Therefore, congenital
adhesion band should be considered as a possible cause of
a SBO not only in pediatric patients but also in adult
patients, even those with no history of abdominal surgery.
BR: Band release; C: Childhood; CT: Computed tomography; I: Infant;
LBR: Laparoscopic band release; N: Neonate; SBO: Small bowel obstruction;
SR: Segmental resection; US: Ultrasonography
No additional investigators were involved in this research project.
Availability of data and materials
The datasets supporting the conclusions of present study are included within
the article. Data are available from the corresponding author upon a reasonable
YHC and KHY contributed to the conception and design of this study. TBL,
SHL, SHK participated in acquisition of data, its analysis, and interpretation.
KHY and YHC were responsible for manuscript drafting. YHC and HYK contributed
to offering the intellectual content of the study. All authors were involved in
editing and revising the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final
manuscript version after discussion.
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
Consent for publication
Ethics approval and consent to participate
This study was designed as a retrospective analysis and received an ethical
issue approved by the Institutional Review Board (IRB No. 05-2016-110 &
Inspector member Dr. Jae-Yeon Hwang M.D). Informed consent was obtained
as written format from patients or parents of pediatric patients. The personal
information of all patients was protected.
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