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Celiac Plexus Block

Celiac plexus blocks comprise injections of pain medication, effectively easing abdominal pain often linked to cancer or chronic pancreatitis. The celiac plexus is a nerve cluster encircling the aorta, the chief artery leading into your abdomen.

The celiac, lumbar, hypogastric plexus, and splanchnic nerves form nerve assemblies near the spine, supplying the internal abdominal or pelvic organs. A block administered using a local anesthetic can enhance circulation and mitigate pain. Increased circulation brings more oxygen and nutrients to the area. The pain relief duration from this local anesthetic can range from a couple of hours to numerous hours, sometimes even extending to days. If this procedure alleviates your pain, a series of blocks may be recommended in an effort to interrupt the pain cycle.

Pre-injection Guidelines: Please notify our staff if you’re allergic to any substance, especially iodine. Those scheduled for sedation must avoid eating on the morning of the procedure. Insulin-dependent diabetics receiving sedation may require an adjustment to their morning insulin dose due to the fasting requirement. Patients can maintain their routine medications, such as those for high blood pressure and diabetes, like Glucophage.

Patients should continue taking their regular pain or anti-inflammatory medications on the day of the procedure. Those on blood thinners, like Coumadin, should alert our staff so we can formulate an appropriate plan to discontinue the medication pre-procedure. We generally recommend a designated driver to accompany the patient and ensure their safe journey home post-procedure.

Celiac Plexus Block Procedure: The patient is positioned on their stomach on the procedure table, enabling the physician to optimally visualize the spine using x-ray guidance. The plexus or nerve to be blocked is identified relative to the spine. The skin is cleaned with antibacterial soap, after which the physician applies a numbing agent to a small skin area, which may cause a momentary sting. Once the numbing agent has taken effect, the physician, using x-ray guidance, guides a tiny needle close to the target area for the block, then injects a large volume of a local anesthetic.

Post-procedure Expectations: After the procedure, patients are moved to the recovery room, where they are asked to report the degree of pain relief achieved. Some temporary side effects may include leg weakness, numbness, warmth in the legs, and back pain due to needle insertion, all lasting only a few hours. Patients can generally resume regular activities on the day of the procedure, though we advise against driving.