A Celiac Plexus Block from LA Pain Specialist can provide long lasting relief.
Some forms of abdominal pain may not respond well to traditional treatments, especially if the discomfort is chronic in nature. A possible source of relief for some patients with recurring abdominal pain is a celiac plexus block, an injection of pain medication that may ease discomfort due to cancer or inflammation of the pancreas.
- The celiac plexus block is directed at a bundle of nerves surrounding the main artery that goes into the abdomen
- The procedure can be diagnostic or therapeutic in nature
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What a Celiac Plexus Block Does
With a celiac plexus block, an anesthetic medication is administered to the celiac plexus nerves to block pain signals that would normally be sent to the brain for interpretation. Blocking this specific group of nerves may stop disruptive abdominal pain.
How it’s Done
A celiac plexus block is applied from the back while a patient is resting on their stomach. A mild sedative may be given to ease anxiety. After a numbing solution is applied to the back, the needle is inserted between the spine and the abdominal artery with the guidance an X-ray or CT scan into the celiac plexus nerves. A contrast dye may be used to confirm that the medication is in the right place.
The anesthetic medication is then delivered. Pain medication that could include clonidine, epinephrine, or phenol (carbolic acid) may also be injected to destroy the celiac plexus nerves. If medication to destroy nerve fibers is administered, the relief often lasts much longer. The procedure is usually completed within 30 minutes.
In order to determine if a patient’s abdominal pain will likely be better managed or relieved altogether with a celiac plexus block, the procedure may be done for diagnostic purposes first. When used for this purpose, the block is only administered with a local anesthetic, which has a numbing effect. If at least 60 percent of the pain experienced is relieved after the diagnostic injection, it’s usually assumed that it will be an effective method of pain relief.
What to Expect
There may be some warmth felt in the abdomen after the injection as the medication works, but this is normal and should eventually go away. After a day or two of rest, regular activities can usually be resumed.
The main benefit of a celiac plexus block is the ability to function without distracting abdominal pain. The procedure is not meant to be a substitute for other treatments for cancer pain or any other possible sources of chronic abdominal pain. When used to manage cancer pain, the block may be more effective during the earlier stages of the disease.
The pain block medication that’s delivered with a celiac plexus block may provide relief that lasts anywhere from several days to several weeks. For patients with long-term chronic pain, additional injections are sometimes recommended if the first injection is effective. Pain relief with subsequent injections may last longer than what’s experienced with the initial procedure. Side effects and risks are minimal.