Treatments

Celiac Plexus Block

What is celiac plexus block?

A celiac plexus block is commonly performed for abdominal pain and especially effective for pancreatic cancer pain. The celiac plexus is a bundle of nerves located in front of the diaphragm and behind the stomach near the celiac artery and the abdominal aorta. The celiac plexus innervates the liver, pancreas, gallbladder, stomach, spleen, kidneys, intestines, adrenal glands, and blood vessels. Blocking this region can relieve pain caused by one of these organs.

Who is a good candidate for celiac plexus block?

In patients with unresectable pancreatic cancer, nerve blocks are associated with improved pain control and reduced pain medication compared with standard treatment.

Conditions

A celiac plexus block can be used to treat intractable pain from upper abdominal cancers. The most commonly and effectively treated cancer with celiac plexus blocks is pancreatic cancer and associated metastasis.

How celiac plexus block works

The celiac plexus block can be performed in many ways. One of the most common ways to block the celiac plexus is the posterior approach. After lying down flat on your abdomen, your skin is anesthetized and a needle is inserted to the side of your vertebrae. The needle is advanced under X-ray guidance, and when the tip is in the correct position, a second needle is placed on the opposite side of the vertebrae. Contrast dye and local anesthetic are injected.

A successful block is marked by profound pain relief. Your physician may also inject another medication, alcohol, or phenol that is used to destroy nerves for prolonged pain relief. The procedure usually takes less than 30 minutes. Sometimes your physician will recommend intravenous sedation to make the procedure more comfortable.

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