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Let Universal Care help with Celiac Plexus Block.

For patients living with chronic discomfort from cancer or an inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis), one possible pain management solution is a celiac plexus block. The purpose is to minimize pain and improve a patient’s overall quality of life.

The celiac plexus is a group of nerves located near the main artery (aorta) in the abdomen that plays a role in supplying organs within this part of the body, including:

  • Stomach and liver
  • Kidneys and spleen
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Preparing for a Celiac Plexus Block

Prior to having a celiac plexus block, patients typically undergo an extensive medical evaluation to determine possible sources of abdominal pain. Imaging tests may be done to determine if a potential pain source may be the celiac plexus nerves.

Before the procedure begins, a local anesthetic will administered to ease any discomfort from the injection itself. Patients who are excessively anxious about the procedure may be given intravenous (IV) medication to encourage relaxation.

How a Celiac Plexus Block is Done

During a celiac plexus, the patient lies on an x-ray table on their stomach. An effort will be made to make the patient as comfortable as possible during the procedure. A special type of live x-ray will be used to guide the doctor to the correct location for the placement of the nerve block.

Thin needles will be inserted into the back by the spine. The first needle will include the anesthetic. The second needle will be placed on the opposite side of the spine. Dye will also be injected to verify that the medication has been injected into the correct location.

Pain medication may be included in the injection to easy inflammation. Special medications may also be used to strategically destroy certain nerves. The procedure itself typically takes about half an hour to complete. A celiac plexus block is usually an outpatient procedure.

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Possible Results from a Celiac Plexus Block

Results seen from a celiac plexus block will vary. Some patients may experience relief for several weeks, depending on what medications are included with the injection. Relief may last for several years if medications that destroy nerves are used to prevent pain signals from being transmitted to the brain.

Frequency/Number of Injections

The amount of time between each injection will depend on whether or not pain becomes disruptive again. Some patients do well with a few injections, while others report better results with more celiac plexus blocks.

When to Consider Celiac Plexus Blocks

Celiac plexus blocks are often recommended for chronic abdominal pain that’s not responding well to other treatments. The determination will depend on the specific source of abdominal pain and the extent of any related symptoms.

Potential risks associated with celiac plexus blocks are minimal. There may be sensations of warmth or some minimal discomfort after the injection. These reactions usually go away as pain relief is experienced because of the medications in the block. Relief from subsequent blocks after the first one may last longer. Some initial rest is usually recommended for the first 24 hours after the procedure before fully returning to normal activities.