The celiac plexus innervates a number of organs including stomach, gallbladder, kidneys, liver, pancreas, adrenal glands and blood vessels. The Celiac Plexus is a group of nerves that surrounds the main artery in your abdomen known as the aorta. Celiac plexus blocks are fluoroscopically guided injections and are commonly preformed on patients to treat intractable pain from cancer or pancreatitis.
Although there are many ways to perform the celiac plexus block, at Pain & Wellness Institute we usually take the posterior approach. This means that the patient lies on their abdomen and the vertebrae will be accessed through the side with an anesthetized needle. Using fluoroscopic imaging, the physician will ensure correct placement of the needle. When correctly placed, another needle will be placed on the opposite side of the vertebrae and a combination of local anesthetic and contrast dye will be injected. Initially the procedure is performed with local anesthetic, such as Lidocaine and Marcaine. If it is successful, then a solution of Phenol or Alcohol is also injected to prolong pain relief. Usually the procedure will last thirty minutes or less and after a short recovery time, the patient will be sent home.
A successful celiac plexus block will produce profound pain relief and will often be repeated to increase relief further. Although the risk for this procedure is low, adverse effects happen in a small number of patients including: bruising or soreness at the injection site. Serious complications including infection, collapse lung, nerve damage and bleeding are extremely uncommon. The most common side effects related to the Celiac Plexus Block are transient diarrhea and low blood pressure.