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Celiac Plexus Block

Medical Services in South Central Missouri & North Central Arkansas

A celiac plexus block is when a medical professional injects a local anesthetic into or near the celiac plexus. The body part known as the celiac plexus is a collection of nerves in the abdominal area and it has previously been referred to as the solar plexus. These nerves are responsible for producing painful simulations derived from abdominal organs like the pancreas. Usually, these nerves manage basic nerve functions. Unfortunately, under specific circumstances, these nerves can carry pain signals from the abdominal area or gut back to the brain and central nervous system.

Several medical conditions that are often treated and managed by means of celiac plexus block are:

  • Chronic pancreatitis
  • Abdominal pain
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Various other abdominal cancers

For more information regarding this procedure, please call Interventional Pain Management, a department of Baxter Regional, at (870) 508-5900.

The Procedure

On the day of your procedure, please arrive at least 20 minutes prior to the scheduled appointment. Our skilled nurses will begin an IV if you want to be sedated and we will conduct a pre-operation nurse assessment. You will then be directed to the procedure room and will lie down on a hospital bed. Once we have you situated in the operating room, you will be sedated and given nitrous oxide gas to induce comfort. We will place a cold cleaning solution on your skin in order to lower your chance of infection. Then, using x-ray guidance, our doctors will identify the site for the procedure. Once we identify the procedure site, we will apply a shot of anesthetic to numb the area. It may sting slightly, but the pain will pass in a couple seconds. Using x-ray guidance, the spinal needle will then be placed into position. Next, we will inject dye in order to confirm the correct needle placement and to observe the medicine spreading in the celiac plexus. Steroids and anesthetics will comprise the medication that we inject through the needle. The medication will disperse in your celiac plexus and cover the cluster of nerves. Then, we will repeat the procedure on the opposite side to make sure the entire celiac plexus has been medicated. Many patients report that they feel relief fairly quickly. We will then take the needle out and take you to a separate room for recovery. The entire procedure only takes about 10-15 minutes and afterwards, we will observe you for 15 more minutes to ensure the effects are working properly. You are then free to travel home and recover comfortably.

What to Expect Afterwards

Immediately after the procedure, you may notice a warm feeling around your abdomen. Patients also report feeling substantially less pain, or that their pain has completely disappeared overall. We advise patients to rest and take it easy for the remainder of the day, but you are free to go about conducting your business as usual if you feel up to it. The effects of the medication may last from several days to several months. Some patients need repeated injections in order to experience long term pain relief. If the injection works, but not for very long, then you may be eligible for neurolysis with phenol or alcohol. The procedure is repeated as stated previously and it is extremely safe and often effective. It is frequently a more effective long term solution if the initial celiac plexus block’s effects fade over time.

Low Risk

The celiac plexus block is usually considered a safe and appropriate non-surgical procedure for patients suffering from severe abdominal pain. The procedure is extremely low risk and has been perfected over the past several decades. While the risks are low, there are chances of a misplaced needle, bleeding, infection, punctured surrounding organs, punctured blood vessels, allergic reactions to the drugs, damage to the nerves, and/or paralysis. However, the most common side-effects from this procedure are diarrhea and hypotension.

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