FAQ’s on Celiac Plexus Block
What is a Celiac Plexus Block?
The Celiac Plexus of the body is a bundle of nerves located to the rear of the stomach that have a large role in the nervous activity of the abdomen. A Celiac Plexus Block is administered to patients who are having abdominal pains, and is a viable solution for a number of potential pain causes.
Abdominal pain may be caused due to problems with the kidneys, liver, gallbladder, intestines, or the stomach. The Celiac Plexus supports blood vessels in these organs, and blocking it can provide pain relief to a great extent..
What can be treated by blocking the Celiac Plexus?
It is an effective procedure for any pain in the abdomen caused by the areas governed by this plexus, such as, Chron’s Disease, IBS, inflammation of the pancreas, some types of cancers, and upper abdominal pain. Since this nerve bundle is located so prominently within the abdomen, a block administered to it is effective for nearly every cause of symptomatic pain in the surrounding areas.
How is the procedure performed?
There are two separate purposes of performing this block: diagnostic and therapeutic. A diagnostic block is performed using only a small amount of numbing agent, and is done to test if the Celiac Plexus is the actual cause of pain within the patient or if there is a separate cause. If Pain Relief is obtained with this small block, then a physician may perform a full therapeutic block in which a large amount of numbing agent is used to provide relief for an extended duration of time.
The procedure is commonly performed as a bilateral approach (the use of two needles) that is monitored by fluoroscopic imaging (X-rays taken in quick succession to create a current image of the patient.) These blocks are commonly done as simple outpatient procedures with the patient placed under local anesthesia, with IV sedation often available as a secondary option for those who desire it.
Once the attending physician has properly placed the needles within the nerve bundle (guided by fluoroscopy) a numbing agent is injected. Numbing the nerve cluster in this fashion inhibits the ability of it to transmit pain signals to the brain, providing near instant Pain Relief to the patient.
How well do Celiac Plexus Blocks work?
Patients who choose to have this block performed as the treatment option for their pain can often feel the effects immediately. For many patients, the relief gained from this block can last upwards of four months. The procedure itself can be repeated as needed to maintain Pain Relief. There is a side factor to these blocks for those patients who have been regularly taking an opiate for their pain, as this block may be able to help reduce the amount of opiate required to obtain and maintain relief.
What are the risks of a Celiac Plexus Block?
Due to the constant monitoring during the needle placement trough fluoroscopic imaging, this technique is incredibly safe for the patient. There is the never-present small chance of infection or allergic reaction to the agent used, with some patients reporting minor pain at the injection site. More serious risks are present if the needle is placed incorrectly, including an infection, collapsed lung, or false injection into the surrounding areas causing unwanted numbness.
What is the bottom line with Celiac Plexus Block?
Like many nerve blocks, the Celiac Plexus Block is a simple, quick procedure that is often able to provide instant and extended Pain Relief for the patient with very minor risk. There is an item of note however, that patients who have had symptoms for a lengthy amount of time do not seem to respond very well to this procedure.