A celiac plexus block is an advanced pain management procedure that injects local anesthetic in and around the nerves surrounding the aorta, which is the main artery in the abdomen. The nerves around the aorta carry out basic nerve functions, but if things go wrong, they can carry pain signals from the gut/abdomen area to the brain and spinal cord.
Purpose of Celiac Plexus Block
The purpose of this injection is to block the celiac plexus of nerves that send signals to parts of the abdomen and various organs. This typically reduces pain in the abdomen and can also be part of a treatment for Chronic Pancreatitis and other types of chronic pain in the abdomen.
About the Procedure
The actual injection takes anywhere from 10-30 minutes and includes a local anesthetic. On occasion, steroid medications can be added to the local anesthesia to prolong the effects of the celiac plexus block. Because the needle is inserted into deep tissue, there is some pain involved, but they do numb the skin before inserting the fine needle into it, and before inserting the actual block needle. Intravenous sedation is another option for patients to help tolerate the procedure more easily.
After the Procedure | Recovery
Immediately following the injection, your abdomen may have a warm sensation as well as immediate pain relief or a significant reduction in the pain in your abdomen. A small and temporary side effect is feeling a sensation of numbness in your abdomen wall as well as parts of your upper leg. Someone else should drive you home and so long as everything went well, you can plan to go to work the next day. It is advised to do activities that you can tolerate and to handle yourself gently for the next day or two.
How Long Does the Celiac Plexus Block Last?
The local anesthetic can wear off within a few hours, and the actual block can last several hours to several days. Luckily, after each additional injection the relief time lasts longer.
How Many Celiac Plexus Blocks Do I Need?
If you have a good response to the first injection, it is advised that you have more. A series of injections is usually needed to treat the problem fully and a series can be 2-4 injections. Sometimes, although it is rare, someone may need up to or more than 10 injections. But the response, per injection, varies greatly from patient to patient.
Will The Celiac Plexus Block Work?
If a patient is treating their issue early on with celiac blocks, then it should work very well, but sometimes it does not work as well if your issues have been ongoing for a while.
Who Should Avoid Having A Celiac Plexus Block
Those who have poorly controlled heart disease or diabetes should not consider this surgery. If you are allergic to any medications that would be injected or are on blood thinners, then you should not have the surgery.
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