A celiac plexus block is administered to provide relief for a patient who is suffering from one or more pain-causing conditions of the abdomen. The celiac plexus is a nerve bundle located behind the stomach which provides sensation to the tissues and organs of the abdomen, including the spleen, liver, stomach, kidneys, intestines, and gallbladder.
This treatment functions by blocking the ability of the celiac plexus to send pain signals to the brain, providing relief to the surrounding organs and tissues.
What will a Celiac Plexus Block treat?
Almost any condition of the abdominal region is related to the nerves of the celiac plexus, making this injection a viable treatment for a vast majority of abdominal complications. Patients suffering from Inflammatory Bowel Disorder, Crohn’s disease, pancreatitis, and pain caused by certain cancers will be able to achieve some degree of relief this block.
How is a Celiac Plexus Block performed?
The most common method of performing a celiac plexus block is the bilateral approach (the use of two needles, one on each side of the spine). The patient is placed prone, providing access to the plexus from the back.
Fluoroscopic imaging will be used to guide the needles into the nerve bundle. It is a series of X-rays taken to create a current picture of where the needle is within the patient.
Once the needles have been placed correctly around the celiac plexus, a small amount of anesthetic will be injected. This is done as a diagnostic block to see how the patient will react to the numbing of the nerves.
If this small amount of anesthetic provides a reasonable amount of relief for the patient, the San Antonio pain physician will then administer a therapeutic block which is the full dosage of anesthetic combined with a steroid component. The steroid helps to extend the duration of relief provided by the block. At times, glycerin or some sort of alcohol solution may be used to provide longer term relief.
Sometimes celiac plexus blocks are done with CT guidance.
How well do Celiac Plexus Blocks work?
For many patients, the effects of this block will be felt immediately and can last upwards of fourth months, provided the steroidal component works correctly. Those patients who obtain a reasonable amount of relief from this block should be able to repeat this procedure as often as required to maintain relief. Some patients may be able to obtain enough relief to reduce the amount of opiates that they consume.
What are the risks of a Celiac Plexus Block?
The celiac plexus block is considered to be a very safe procedure as the needles are closely monitored during insertion to ensure accurate placement prior to the injection of medication. There is the small risk of infection, bleeding, or swelling at the site of injection.
The most common side effect is a spot of soreness where the needles were placed.
Despite the monitoring of the needles, it is still possible for them to be misplaced. This can lead to an accidental anesthetic injection into the surrounding tissues, creating an unintentional numbing of an organ. Some of the more serious complications arising from a misplaced needle include a collapsed lung or a spinal block.
What is the bottom line with Celiac Plexus Block?
Like many other nerve blocks, the celiac plexus block can be a very safe and effective treatment option provided the needles are placed correctly. Seventy percent of patients obtain excellent relief from it!
If you or a loved one would like help with your abdominal pain and would like to consider a Celiac Plexus Block, contact Premier Pain Consultants today. The practice offers a Double Board Certified San Antonio pain management doctor accepting over 50 insurance plans at multiple locations.
Call (210) 202-4030 for more information and scheduling!