FAQs on Celiac Plexus Block in Atlanta

A commonly performed interventional pain procedure used to treat abdominal pain is the celiac plexus block. The celiac plexus is a nerve bundle located behind the stomach and in front of the diaphragm.

This nerve collection innervates the various abdominal organs, such as the stomach, intestines, liver, and gall bladder. Blocking these nerves will relieve pain associated with any of the abdominal organs.

Why is the celiac plexus block used?

For serious, intense, and intractable abdominal and/or pelvic pain, the celiac plexus block can be used to provide relief. Pancreatic cancer with metastasis is one condition commonly treated with this block.

How do I prepare for the celiac plexus block?

You will be informed of where and when you are to report for your procedure in advance. It is important that you do not eat or drink after midnight the night before you undergo the celiac plexus block.

If you take medications, be sure to ask the doctor which ones you are allowed to take the morning of the procedure, and only take these with small sips of water. In addition, do not take any long-acting oral pain medications the day of the procedure.

How is the celiac plexus block performed?

There are several ways the Atlanta pain management doctor can perform the celiac plexus block. The most common way to block the celiac plexus is the posterior approach, where the patient lies on his/her abdomen, and the needles are inserted in the back. The doctor uses x-ray guidance (called fluoroscopy) to make sure the needles are placed in the correct area, near the vertebrae.

What medications are used during the celiac plexus block?

Sometimes the pain doctor in Atlant recommends an intravenous sedative to make the procedure more comfortable for you. The doctor will use a long-acting anesthetic to numb the skin and tissues before inserting the needles.

In addition, contrast dye and a numbing agent are injected directly into the celiac plexus. The doctor may also use a neurolytic substance, such as absolute alcohol or phenol, to destroy these nerves or a portion of them.

Will I be monitored during the procedure?

During the celiac plexus block, the medical staff will monitor your pain and assess your vital signs (blood pressure, pulse, respiratory rate). A blood pressure cuff, oxygen-monitoring device, and EKG electrodes may be used.

What is the purpose of the celiac plexus block?

Nerve blocks are used to relieve the pain of serious health conditions and disorders. For patients with abdominal pain that does not respond to pain medication or other treatment modalities, the celiac plexus block is a beneficial alternative. This procedure is minimally invasive, and allows the patient to resume normal daily activities within a short timeframe.

Are there any risks associated with the celiac plexus block?

As with all minimally invasive procedures, there are some risks, complications, and side effects associated with the celiac plexus block. However, the vast majority of patients have no problems following the treatment.

Risks include pneumothorax, infection, bleeding, drug allergy, nerve damage, and blood vessel damage. The most common side effects are slight diarrhea and mild low blood pressure.

Is the celiac plexus block effective?

In a 2005, the celiac plexus block was been proven effective for the relief of intense and chronic forms of abdominal pain, which is caused from malignancies or organ pain. It is important to note that these types of pain do not usually respond to oral medications, but the block appears to be beneficial. In two recent clinical studies, researchers reported the success rate of this block to be 85-90%, regardless of which technique is used.