Superior hypogastric plexus block to manage pelvic pain was widely studied in the 1990s and 2000s prior to its medical application. Researchers found the treatment method a useful way to control and reduce uncontrolled genital pain, cancer pain affecting pelvic organs and other types of pain originating from lower intestine, colon and prostate glands. Since then, the procedure has become popular as an alternative to medication, conservative therapies and even the ganglion impar block.
What is a superior hypogastric plexus block?
Superior hypogastric plexus block is performed to numb the hub of nerves responsible for transmitting sensation to and from pelvic and genital organs. The plexus located at the end of the spinal cord opposite to the upper pelvis feeds out to colon, lower intestine, uterus, prostate, rectum, urethra and various pelvic organs. By blocking the plexus, the transmission of pain signals from these organs to the brain is obstructed assuring long-term relief for patients.
Superior hypogastric plexus block is beneficial in curbing pain from pelvic and visceral areas. Doctors often suggest the block for patients experiencing pain because of gynecologic, colorectal or genitourinary cancer.
What is injected to block the nerves?
Superior hypogastric plexus block is performed by Chicago pain management doctors using injections of lidocaine, a local anesthetic used as numbing medication in a variety of nerve blocks. Often steroids, such as cortisone, or phenol is mixed to it to keep the nerves numbed and ensure pain relief over a longer period of time.
How does a superior hypogastric plexus block work?
The block is performed on the superior hypogastric plexus using numbing injections. The medication, usually a local anesthetic, numbs the nerves and calms the irritation they are subject to due to pain condition. Enervated nerves connecting the plexus with pelvic and visceral organs also lose their ability to send the pain signals to the spine that transmits signals to the brain. This allows pain to be masked and subdued as long as the numbing effect is there.
What are medical conditions treated with superior hypogastric plexus block?
- Chronic pelvic and visceral pain
- Uncontrolled pain in lower abdomen, colon, intestine, vagina, penis, testicles
- Pain due to infection or injury to pelvic organs with recurrent pelvic inflammatory disease
- Pain originating from uterus, vulva, prostate, rectum, urethra
- Pain attributed to medical conditions, such as prostate gland inflammation, pelvic fibrosis, anal-rectal pain linked to tumor, radiation-induced pelvic neuropathy, injury or twisting of pelvic muscles
- Cervical, prostate, genitourinary, gynecologic and colorectal cancer pain
- Myofascial pelvic pain due to damaged connective tissue or other reasons
- Pain from endometriosis or uterus lining outgrowth
How effective is Superior Hypogastric Plexus Block?
The nerve block offers significant, semi-permanent relief from chronic pelvic pain. Multiple studies and post-marketing surveys indicate benefits of the nerve block for those experiencing pain from endometriosis, serious gynecological problems, abdominal or pelvic tissues inflammation, interstitial cystitis and post-surgical chronic pelvic pain. The procedure significantly reduces the need to ingest pain killers between 49 and 67 percent based on patient conditions.
Superior hypogastric plexus block subdues pelvic pain linked to both malignancy and non-malignancy factors. According to a 2005 report in the Brazilian Journal of Anesthesiology, patients experience at least 50 percent pain relief within a month of having the block. Another study shows 70 percent reduction in pain from cancer.
Who is a suitable candidate for superior hypogastric plexus block?
A patient can seek treatment using superior hypogastric plexus block, if he or she is experiencing
- chronic pain originating from visceral or pelvic regions,
- no relief from other treatment methods and
- any medical or pre-existing condition that may aggravate with the procedure
How is superior hypogastric plexus block performed?
An outpatient procedure performed under local anesthesia, superior hypogastric plexus block must be performed by an expert and qualified pain management doctor in Chicago. The skin above the plexus is numbed and the medication is injected.
Fluoroscopy is used to guide the needle and to avoid any unwanted damage to nerves, internal organs and blood vessels. Dye is injected prior to the numbing medication to confirm the needle position.
How long does it take?
It takes about 15 to 30 minutes.
- Pain relief is immediate, though the long-term effect is visible only after 2/3 days.
- Patients are discharged after an hour of observation.
- Rest is suggested until next morning and patients are advised to keep off themselves from stressful activities for 2 to 3 days.
- Patients experience injection-site numbness or temporary inflammation.
How long does the pain relief last?
The pain relief lasts between a few weeks to months at a stretch. Patients can have repeated superior hypogastric plexus blocks at prescribed intervals.
What are potential side effects of superior hypogastric plexus block?
Common side effects of superior hypogastric plexus block may include bruising, temporary inflammation and injection-site soreness. Patients may also feel temporary back pain. There is also the risk of allergy to local anesthesia and steroids used. Rare adverse events mostly attributed to clinical errors include bleeding, nerve and blood vessel damage while inserting the needle, puncturing of pelvic organs and significantly lower pain relief as far as intensity and duration are concerned.
The highly qualified Board Certified pain management doctors at Premier Pain & Spine offer all types of interventional pain procedures including superior hypogastric blocks. There are 8 locations, where most insurance is accepted.
Call the closest location to you today for treatment at the top Chicago pain management clinics!