Chronic abdominal pain is unfortunately something that many Americans are living through on a daily basis. Luckily for those that are living through the pain, there are now a number of different ways to go about treating the symptoms and putting the patients on their way to recovery. One of these ways is to inject blocks into the celiac plexus. By doing so, the way the brain receives pain signals is drastically changed. Simply put, the blocks are
placed in the way of the signals and the transmissions never reach the brain, allowing for a number of weeks pain-free.
The celiac plexus is located behind the stomach. It is made up of a number of nerves that are located directly in front of the diaphragm. It contains a large number of blood vessels, and controls the nerve sensations for the kidneys, spleen, liver, stomach, intestines, and gallbladder. There are a number of conditions that would cause the celiac plexus to become agitated. Amongst them are pancreatic cancer, Crohn’s disease, inflammatory bowel disorder, and others.
A celiac plexus block is a way to inject anesthetic directly into the celiac plexus. As this area is the nerve center for the abdomen area, local anesthetic in the area will disrupt the pain signals being sent to the brain, offering relief to the patient. Medication injected is usually a local anesthetic. In some cases, steroids accompany the anesthetic to prolong the effects. The actual procedure is relatively simple from a medical standpoint. Furthermore, it can be done as an outpatient procedure and the patient can return home after it has been performed. Although not completely necessary, in some instances the patient will be completely sedated. The procedure can be completed at Pain Clinics.
The doctor will inject the needle into the area in question to numb the area. Additional medication and phenol (to increase the power of the anesthetic) will then be injected into the area.
Although a celiac plexus block only takes around 30 minutes to complete, it may be necessary to repeat the procedure up to two times every month. The reason is that the effects do wear off over time. It varies by patient as to how long the effects will last, however the good news is that the procedure can be performed time and time again without complications. Most patients report that they are pain free for up to two months before they need to return to the pain clinic and receive another injection.
The procedure is very safe. If complications do arise, make sure to contact your doctor at the pain clinic as soon as possible. Although very rare, in some instances patients can report infection and bleeding. Furthermore, nerve damage is a rare possibility if there are complications during the procedure. However, these complications are very rare in nature and the overall positive effects of the operation far outweigh the potential issues that could happen.
See Also: Superior Hypogastric Plexus Block