The celiac plexus is a bundle of nerves located in front of the diaphragm and behind the stomach near the abdominal aorta. These nerves play an integral part of the neural network that innervates the liver, pancreas, gallbladder, stomach, spleen, kidneys, intestines, adrenal glands, and blood vessels. Patients with cancers or chronic inflammation involving these organs may experience a dull aching pain in the abdomen.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I find out if I am a candidate for a celiac plexus block?
A celiac plexus block can be used to treat intractable pain from upper abdominal cancers or chronic inflammation. Pain caused by pancreatic cancer is one of the most common indications for a celiac plexus block, although patients suffering from chronic pancreatitis or other abdominal conditions may benefit from this procedure as well. Keep in mind that celiac plexus blocks are not always a cure for the condition causing your pain, but rather a means of managing your pain and discomfort to improve your overall quality of life.
What should I expect during a celiac plexus block?
Celiac plexus blocks are typically performed with the use of a local anesthetic, much like what you’d receive from a dentist while getting a cavity filled. However, some patients prefer IV sedation as well. During the procedure, the doctor will use x-ray guidance to identify the anatomical location of the celiac plexus. Once the needle is properly placed, the doctor will inject an anesthetic around the area where the bundle of nerves are located. Usually, the procedure takes less than 20-minutes followed by a short observation period.
What types of results can I expect after undergoing a celiac plexus block?
Many patients report pain relief immediately after the injection. Some may be pain-free for several weeks while others may need a series of injections to obtain the desired pain relief.