What is a Celiac Plexus Block?
To better understand where these nerves are; visualize the diaphragm, and just underneath it, in the center of the abdomen, you can find this group of nerve fibers. A lot of abdominal organs receive sensation from the celiac plexus.
A Celiac Plexus Block is a method of treating abdominal pain caused by cancer, pancreatitis, and other conditions affecting the abdomen, such as Inflammatory Bowel Disorder and Crohn’s disease through injection. It works by blocking the pain signals from the abdomen to the brain.
How is a celiac plexus block performed?
The Chicago pain management doctor will ask the patient to lie on the stomach for the procedure, which lasts approximately 30 minutes. Sedation may be administered through IV, though this is most beneficial for those who experience more pain while lying on their stomach or for those who are suffering from anxiety about the procedure.
Two fluoroscopy-guided needles are used to ensure the proper positioning of the injections. The first part of the procedure is diagnostic, meaning that the first injections will be performed to ensure that the procedure will be a success. Numbing medication is injected through both needles to block the pain signals. If the results are positive then another injection is administered that will provide longer-lasting relief. This second set of injections contains alcohol or phenol to kill the celiac plexus nerves.
Other than the “prick” of the needle breaking the skin, the procedure is relatively painless. You may feel a warming or unfamiliar sensation in your abdomen immediately following the injection. This is normal. You should also feel a decrease or even complete resolution of your abdominal pain. It works instantaneously.
Once the procedure is complete, the patient will be taken to a recovery area to be monitored for an hour or so before being discharged.
The results vary from patient to patient. Some may require more treatments than others in order to get the long-lasting results desired.
Overall, 70% of patients obtain excellent results from the procedure, while the need for opiate medications goes down by an average of 40%.
What can I expect after the procedure?
In some cases a patient may experience some numbness or weakness in the abdominal wall or in the leg. This is only temporary and doesn’t happen to everyone. Though this is a safe procedure, it’s always advisable to report any unusual feelings or symptoms to your pain management clinic in Chicago just to be sure.