FAQ’s on Celiac Plexus Block
Patients who are having symptomatic pain in the abdomen can likely achieve relief through the use of a celiac plexus block. The celiac plexus is a nerve bundle that provides sensation to the abdominal tissue, and is located behind the stomach. The celiac plexus houses nerve fibers that are linked to many of the organs in the abdomen and that connect to a large number of the surrounding blood vessels.
When patients are experiencing pain in any of these areas, a celiac plexus block can provide relief by administering a numbing agent to the nerves of the plexus. Numbing the plexus will stop the transmission of pain signals from the nerves to the brain, providing relief for a patient. The exact methodology is described in (Basic technique for celiac plexus block, 2009)
What will a Celiac Plexus Block treat?
There are a number of disorders in the abdomen that can have symptomatic relief with a celiac plexus block. Some of the most frequently occurring conditions in our patients include chronic abdominal pain, pain related to specific cancers of the abdomen, pain occurring due to visceral tissue adhesion, Inflammatory Bowel Disorder, and pain due to infection. The exact effectiveness of a celiac plexus block in the treatment of chronic abdominal pain has been successfully clinically tested (Celiac plexus block in the management of chronic abdominal pain, 2014) with the block also tested as a therapeutic option for pancreatic cancer in recently conducted research (Celiac plexus block for treatment of pain associated with pancreatic cancer, 2014).
How is a Celiac Plexus Block performed?
The most frequently used procedural method for the administration of a celiac plexus block is the bilateral approach, which uses two needles in unison to ensure the entirety of the celiac plexus receives the desired treatment. The needles will be used with one positioned on each side of the plexus, and will be guided with fluoroscopic imaging to ensure their accuracy. Patients will be given a local anesthetic at the sites designated for injection, with the option for intravenous sedation available to those desiring it.
After correct needle positioning has been achieved, a numbing agent will be injected into the celiac plexus (which will enable it to cease transmission of pain signals to the brain). The effects of the celiac plexus block should be felt immediately by patients.
How well does a Celiac Plexus Block work?
There are two primary reasons a celiac plexus block can be performed: as a diagnostic tool, and as a therapeutic treatment option for patients. A diagnostic celiac plexus block uses only a small amount of numbing agent in the injection, and is designed to see if a numbed plexus will provide symptomatic relief for the patient. If numbing the plexus causes pain to dissipate, it is very unlikely that the celiac plexus is the source of pain for that patient (a therapeutic block will be unable to provide complete relief over an extended duration of time).
A therapeutic block uses the full amount of numbing agent during the injection in combination with a steroidal component designed to extend the duration of relief for the patient. In many cases, patients who experience a higher percentage of relief (80%) with a celiac plexus block will be able to repeat the procedure again. Each subsequent injection typically provides a longer lasting period of relief.
What are the risks of Celiac Plexus Blocks?
There is very little risk associated with a celiac plexus block. Side effects may include a small risk of infection, bleeding, or soreness at the site of injection (in addition to a possible allergic reaction to either the numbing agent or the steroid used). The largest risk patient’s may face is that the injection will not be able to provide a therapeutic effect.