Frequently Asked Questions on Celiac Plexus Nerve Blocks
What is the celiac plexus?
The term plexus refers to a bundle of nerves. The celiac plexus is located right in front of the diaphragm and behind the stomach.
The bundle of nerves surrounds the celiac artery and is situated close to the aorta. Sensation is supplied by the plexus to lots of abdominal organs including the kidneys, adrenal glands, spleen, stomach, liver, intestines and quite a few blood vessels in the area.
What is a celiac plexus nerve block?
A celiac plexus block works well for such conditions as Crohn’s disease, inflammatory bowel disorder, cancer or pancreatitis.
The purpose of the block is to alter the way that pain signals are transmitted from the abdomen to the brain. This can decrease abdominal discomfort by having less of those signals reach the brain.
What abdominal disorders benefit from celiac plexus blocks?
Due to the significant amount of organs receiving sensation from the celiac plexus, these blocks work well for a variety of disorders. Narcotic medications may not work very well for pancreatitis, however, the nerve block may help tremendously.
For inflammatory bowel disorder, opiates may be a problem there as well. They cause constipation of the G.I. tract, so they may have benefit in one area but a deleterious effect in another. For those with IBD, receiving a celiac plexus block may allow the patient successful pain relief while diminishing the amount of opiates necessary.
Pancreatitis can be extremely painful so these blocks can help a lot, and the pain from upper abdominal cancers may also be effectively managed with celiac blocks.
How is the celiac plexus nerve block performed?
For celiac injections, pain management doctors in Las Vegas often use IV sedation. Injections are performed as an outpatient and the patient lays flat on his or her belly. The pain doctor will numb up the skin and the soft tissues down to the area overlying the celiac plexus.
The most common method is for Las Vegas pain doctors to perform celiac plexus blocks with two separate needles rather than one. Routinely, the procedure is performed with a real-time form of x-ray, known as fluoroscopy.
Once the pain doctor is satisfied with needle placement around the celiac plexus, contrast dye is injected to ensure the positioning is appropriate. At that point, numbing medicine is injected to block the brain from receiving the abdominal pain signals.
A pain doctor may also use steroid medication or phenol for additional pain relief. Phenol is a form of alcohol that can help deaden the plexus nerves for longer lasting relief.
The procedure takes about 20 to 40 minutes and once completed the patient is monitored for an hour or so to make sure vital signs are stable and no allergic reaction occurs.
What are the outcomes of celiac plexus nerve blocks?
For those individuals dealing with chronic abdominal pain due to either cancer or pancreatitis or inflammatory bowel disorder, celiac plexus blocks work exceptionally well. About 75% of individuals receive excellent pain relief for up to four months from the procedure.
What are the risks of a celiac plexus nerve block?
This procedure has a very low risk profile, which makes it even more favorable for chronic abdominal pain. There is a slight risk of infection, arterial puncture, drug allergy, nerve injury or bleeding.
Although these risks are small, they should not be ignored. The most rare complication is paralysis. Also, the patient may end up with transient diarrhea or low blood pressure.
What is the bottom line with celiac plexus blocks?
For individuals dealing with chronic abdominal pain, celiac blocks are great. They can lessen the need for opiate medications, which is beneficial because opiates often don’t work well for chronic abdominal pain disorders anyway.
If the block works for a few weeks to a few months and then the pain comes back, it can easily be repeated as an outpatient with the expectation that pain relief will be received again.
The expectation going into a celiac plexus block should be that three-fourths of the time excellent pain relief will be achieved for a few weeks to a few months. Talk to your Las Vegas pain clinic doctor about the risks and benefits of the procedure.
You do not have to live with chronic abdominal pain, visit a Nevada pain clinic today!