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Celiac Plexus Block

What is a Celiac Plexus Block?

Celiac plexus blocks are injections of pain medication that help relieve abdominal pain, commonly due to cancer or chronic pancreatitis.

The celiac plexus is a bundle of nerves that surrounds the aorta, the main artery into your abdomen. Blocking these nerves from carrying pain information can help you stop feeling pain in your abdomen.

How is a Celiac Plexus Block Done?

First, you’ll be given an intravenous medication to relax you. Then, you’ll lie on your stomach on an x-ray table.

The doctor will numb an area of skin on your back with a local anesthetic. Then, guided by an x-ray, he or she will:

  • Insert a thin needle into your back, next to your spine, and inject anesthetic
  • Insert a second needle on the other side of your spine
  • Inject dye to confirm that medication will go to the correct spot
  • Inject pain medication, such as epinephrine, clonidine or steroid; alcohol or phenol also may be injected to block the nerves

How Effective is a Celiac Plexus Block?

How long the pain relief lasts is different for each person. For some, celiac plexus blocks can relieve pain for weeks. For others, the relief can last years. Many can return to their normal activities.

Patients will typically need a series of injections to continue the pain relief. Sometimes it takes only two injections; sometimes it takes up to ten.

What Happens After the Procedure?

Your abdomen may feel warm or “different,” and you may begin to feel less abdominal pain. Your abdominal wall or leg may feel numb or weak, but this feeling will subside when the anesthetic wears off.

You can continue your regular diet and medications immediately, but do not drive or do any rigorous activity for 24 hours after the procedure. Take it easy. You can return to your normal activities the next day.

The nerve block may last several days, but it may last longer with each repeat injection.

What are the Risks?

Overall, this procedure has very few risks. However, as with any procedure, there are some risks and side effects you should know about. Side effects may include increased pain from the injection (which is usually temporary), a rarely inadvertent puncture of the “sack” containing spinal fluid (which may cause headaches), infection, bleeding, nerve damage, or no relief from your usual pain.


What Does a Celiac Nerve Block Do?

A celiac plexus nerve block helps alleviate chronic abdominal pain that has been caused by pancreatic cancer and abdominal conditions. It stops pain signals from being sent from the celiac plexus nerves in your abdomen to your brain. This minimally invasive procedure can provide temporary relief for 3-6 months.

What Neurolytic Agents Are Used in Celiac Plexus Block?

The main medication used in a celiac plexus block is a local anesthetic, usually lidocaine or bupivacaine, and a neurolytic phenol or alcohol. At Pro Spine & Pain, we will diligently brief you about the medication you'll be given in your pre-procedure consultation.

What Is the Difference Between a Celiac Plexus Block and a Neurolysis?

The major difference is a celiac plexus block uses a local anesthetic to interrupt the pan. Whereas, a neurolysis uses chemical ablation to interrupt the transmission of pain.

Updated on Apr 15, 2024 by Dr. Thomas Stauss (Pain Management) of Pro Spine & Pain

Thomas Stauss, MD

Thomas Stauss, MD, completed both his undergraduate and medical studies at the esteemed University of Wisconsin in Madison. Dr. Stauss values having access to a wide array of cutting-edge treatment options, ensuring effective relief for his patients' discomfort and a significant enhancement in their quality of life. More specifically, he specializes in utilizing implanted devices to manage chronic pain. Dr. Stauss’s primary objective is to uphold the dignity of each patient while delivering ethical and professional services.

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