FAQ’s on Superior Hypogastric Plexus Block

What is the procedure?

The tissue and organs of the pelvic region have sensation provided to them by the superior hypogastric nerve plexus. This plexus (nerve bundle) is located near where the sacrum is joined to the spinal tail-end. Administering such a block to this area may relieve pain in patients experiencing complications with their bladder, prostate, uterus, or intestines.

What is the purpose of blocking the Superior Hypogastric Plexus?

Such a block is effective in relieving pain in any area of the pelvis due to the large amount of nerve endings contained within it. These provide a large degree of sensation to the surrounding areas. Blocking this nerve cluster may prevent the pain felt by complications of the bladder, prostate, uterus, or intestines.

A nerve block to this plexus may be especially effective for people who do not respond well to oral medications. This block can potentially replace, or reduce, the previous levels of opiate intake required to obtain relief.

How is the procedure done?

The superior hypogastric plexus block is an outpatient treatment at our clinic with fast recovery. Patients are prepared for this procedure, with many sedated by an IV (this is not required, but is suggested). Many of our physicians use two needles, one on either side of the nerve plexus) for this procedure. Fluoroscopic imaging is used to accurately guide the needles into place in preparation for the injection of anesthetic.

Once the proper position is identified and needles are placed, an anesthetic and a steroid is injected into the nerve plexus in order to numb it. The steroid makes the treatment last longer if successful. For the majority of patients this block can be performed in less than an hour with little to no recovery time required.

How well do Blocks of the Superior Hypogastric Plexus work?

A large number of patients are able to find some degree of success with this block. Approximately 70% of the procedures performed result in Pain Relief, with success coming in a 50% reduction of pain and 40% reduction in the required opiates for the patient.

The length of relief may vary drastically from ne person to another, with some patients achieving pain relief for years. Most patients will achieve closer to one month of pain relief. This is not a hurdle however, as the block as needed to bring relief for the patient.

What are the risks of a Superior Hypogastric Plexus Block?

There are very few risks present for those receiving this block. There is a small chance of infection, bleeding, or swelling at the site of injection. It is also possible for the numbing or steroid agents used to cause an allergic reaction in the patient. There are also large blood vessels near the superior hypogastric plexus, which may potentially be pierced by the needle during injection.

Patients who are on blood thinners should cease their usage five to seven days prior to the administration of this block. Our physicians will explain exactly when to cease their usage. The largest risk present for this procedure is that it will not provide Pain Relief to the patient.

How effective is the procedure of blocking the Superior Hypogastric Plexus?

The bottom line with this procedure is that many patients may be able to obtain relief for their pelvic pain with very associated little risk. It is a reliable and effective alternative to invasive measures, and can be repeated as often as necessary to maintain relief.