Celiac Plexus Block is a treatment used to control chronic abdominal pain and is also administered as part of chronic pancreatitis treatment. The injection takes between 10 and 30 minutes and consists of a local anesthetic which could be epinephrine, steroid medication or clonidine. The anesthesia is injected within the celiac plexus nerves which are located in the abdomen’s center right beneath the diaphragm. This numbing medicine interrupts the nerves and lessens the pain.
Is The Celiac Plexus Block Painful?
The needle is inserted through your skin before making its way to deeper tissues and yes, you should expect to feel some pain. That said; a local anesthetic can be used to numb skin along with the deeper tissues before the actual celiac plexus block is used. This makes the procedure less painful. In many cases, patients also undergo intravenous sedation making the procedure more tolerable.
Is Pain Relief Instant and How Long Does It Last?
This injection provides immediate pain relief and can last from six to 24 hours. However, if you undergo a neurolytic celiac plexus block, you are likely to experience discomfort a day after the injection and this may last for about a week. This is mostly due to its alcohol content which irritates the abdomen structures. The good thing about the neurolytic celiac plexus block is the fact that you will get pain relief for a longer time. Usually for about two months.
Do I Need To Be Sedated for The Celiac Plexus Block?
Like we mentioned above, many patients prefer sedation because it makes the procedure more tolerable. However, it is not necessary and the sedation will ultimately depend on the patient’s tolerance of the procedure. Some of the patients who undergo sedation may have amnesia and poor memory of the procedure (which is usually preferable).
How is a Celiac Plexus Block Performed?
This injection is administered with the patient lying on the stomach. The procedure is closely monitored using an oxygen monitoring device, EKG and blood pressure cuff. The injection must be inserted under sterile conditions and the skin is cleaned with an antiseptic before numbing.
An X-ray is used in the procedure (fluoroscopy) as well and this is to ensure that the needle gets into the right position which is outside the spine. Once the needle is set in place, a dye test is used to ascertain that the medication will get to the appropriate area and if everything is okay, the injection is gradually administered. When the area covered is sufficient, the injection is removed and the puncture is covered with a band aid.
What Should I Feel After The Injection?
The injection provides immediate relief like we mentioned earlier and you can expect to feel warm sensations in your abdomen as well as numbness and temporary weakness in your leg or the abdominal wall. You might also have temporarily low blood pressure and may experience a softer stool or some diarrhea but this shouldn’t last long. Patients are advised to relax for a day or two and some may undergo physiotherapy immediately after.
How Many Injections Do I Need?
The response to the anesthesia varies amongst patients and should you respond only partially to the first injection, you may need a series of injections. The typical result is that 3/4 of patients receive between two and four months of relief.
What Are The Side Effects and Risks That Come With Celiac Plexus Block?
The most common side effect is soreness on the punctured skin. Rare side effects include infection, bleeding, spinal block, injection of blood vessels and other surrounding organs. These serious side effects are highly uncommon.