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FAQs on Celiac Plexus Block in Phoenix AZ

A celiac plexus nerve block is a type of injection used to control pain or to diagnose abdominal pain due to pancreatitis, Crohn’s disease, or cancer. The medications injected block the nerves that transmit pain signals from the abdominal region to the brain.

How common is abdominal pain?

In a recent clinical study involving 639 patients, the most common cause of abdominal pain was non-specific abdominal pain (NSAP), which affected 33% of the participants. Abdominal pain affects men and women equally, and is seen in the young and old alike. In this study, surgery was most common among those aged 55 to 64 years, and 15% were discharged without hospitalization.

What is the celiac plexus?

The celiac plexus is a bundle of nerves that are positioned in front of the diaphragm behind the stomach near the aorta. These nerves supply sensation to the stomach, gallbladder, spleen, kidneys, liver, intestines, and adrenal glands.

What conditions are treated using the celiac plexus block?

The celiac plexus block is used to treat chronic abdominal pain, related to pancreatitis, organ dysfunction, abdominal cancer, and colon cancer. This procedure offers excellent pain relief to people who have intractable pain.

What happens before the procedure is scheduled?

When you are referred to the pain management specialist, the doctor will ask questions about your pain, take a history, and do a physical exam. Once you and the doctor decide on the celiac plexus block for pain control, the doctor will schedule your appointment. You need avoid drink/food for 8 hours before the appointment, and hold any drugs or supplements that could thin the blood (Coumadin, aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and ginkgo biloba). Be sure to wear loose-fitting clothing the day of your procedure, and leave all valuables at home.

How is the procedure done?

A celiac plexus block is done as an outpatient procedure. When you arrive at the surgical center, you change into a gown, and the nurse places an IV line in your arm. Once you are positioned face-down on your abdomen, the nurse administers a sedative and cleans the skin on your back. A procedure needle is inserted under x-ray guidance, and the needle is positioned near the celiac plexus nerves. Once position is verified, an anesthetic and/or neurolytic agent is instilled onto the nerves. The entire procedure only takes around 30 minutes.

What can I expect after the celiac plexus block?

After the procedure, you are monitored by a nurse for around 60 minutes while you wake up from sedation. Expect some tenderness at the injection site. You also may experience some warmth of the abdomen along with dizziness, drowsiness, and dry mouth. These temporary side effects will resolve quickly.

Does the celiac plexus block work?

In a recent study, the celiac plexus block was compared to standard treatment for pancreatic cancer. At the 2- and 4-month follow-up visits, 75% of patients receiving the block reported excellent pain relief. In addition, the block was found to have a low risk profile and few side effects. The block was found to have an 80% efficacy rate in a meta-analysis involving patients with pancreatic cancer.

Resources

Miettinen P, Pasanen P, Lahtinen J, & Alhava E (1996). Acute abdominal pain in adults. Ann Chir Gyneaecol, 85(1), 5-9.

Puli SR, Reddy JB, Bechtold ML, Antillon MR, & Brugge WR (2009). EUS-guided celiac plexus neurolysis for pain due to chronic pancreatitis or pancreatic cancer pain: a meta-analysis and systematic review. Dig Dis Sci, 54:2330–2337.