What Is Celiac plexus block?

The Celiac Plexus is a bundle of nerves located in front of the diaphragm and behind the stomach near the celiac artery and the abdominal aorta. The celiac plexus innervates the liver, pancreas, gallbladder, stomach, spleen, kidneys, intestines, adrenal glands, and blood vessels.

A Celiac Plexus Block can be used to treat intractable pain from upper abdominal cancers. The most commonly and effectively treated cancer with Celiac plexus blocks is Pancreatic Cancer Pain and associated metastasis.

A Celiac Plexus Block is performed to lessen or eliminate Chronic Pancreatitis Pain. It also can help your physician find the cause of your pain (diagnostic nerve block).

Celiac plexus block Overview

It is done with the patient lying on stomach. The patients are monitored with EKG, blood pressure cuff and an oxygen-monitoring device. The celiac plexus block is performed under sterile conditions. The skin on back is cleaned with antiseptic solution and the skin is then numbed with a local anesthetic. Then X-ray is used to guide the needle or needles into the proper position along the outside of the spine. Once in place, a test dose of dye is used to confirm that the injected medication will spread in an appropriate area. If this is okay, the injection takes place gradually over several minutes. The physician will use the X-ray to evaluate the spread of the injected medication. When a sufficient area is covered, the injection will be over. When done, the needle is removed and a Band Aid is applied.

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Before and After the Procedure and the Risks

Before the Procedure

Do not eat anything after midnight the night before your procedure. This includes hard candy and gum.

 You may need to stop taking some of your medications before your procedure. Talk with your healthcare provider about which medications are safe for you to stop taking. 

If you take a blood thinner (medication that affects the way your blood clots), ask the healthcare provider performing your procedure what to do. Their contact information is listed at the end of this resource. Whether they recommend you stop taking the medication depends on the type of procedure you’re having and the reason you’re taking blood thinners.

After the Procedure

You must have a responsible care partner take you home after your procedure. A responsible care partner is someone who can help you get home safely and report concerns to your doctor, if needed. Make sure to plan this before the day of your procedure.

  • You can continue taking your pain medication right after your procedure.
  • Your back may feel sore for a few days in the area where the needle was placed.
  • You may have diarrhea (loose or watery bowel movements) for 3 to 5 days.
  • Don’t drive or use heavy machinery for 24 hours after your procedure.
  • Don’t drink alcohol for 24 hours after your procedure.
  • You can take the Band-Aid® off the night of or the morning after your procedure.
  • You can shower the day after your procedure.

Procedure Risks

This procedure is safe. However, with any procedure there are risks, side effects and possibility of complications. The most common side effect is temporary pain or soreness at the injection site. Uncommon risks involve bleeding, infection, spinal block, epidural block, collapses lung and injection into blood vessels and surrounding organs. Fortunately, the serious side effects and complications are uncommon.