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Celiac Plexus Block Injections

The celiac plexus, popularly known as the solar plexus, is a bundle of nerves located behind the stomach and in front of the diaphragm. It is near the celiac artery and the abdominal aorta. The celiac plexus innervates a number of organs including stomach, gallbladder, kidneys, liver, pancreas, adrenal glands, and blood vessels. A celiac plexus block can improve pain symptoms from any of these organs. Celiac plexus blocks are fluoroscopically guided injections and are commonly preformed on patients to treat intractable pain from cancer or pancreatitis.

Description of the Celiac Plexus Block Injection procedure

Although there are many ways to perform the celiac plexus block, at Omega 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 vertebra and a combination of local anesthetic and contrast dye will be injected. With cancer patients, phenol is also often injected to prolong pain relief. In many cases the doctor will suggest intravenous sedation to make the procedure more comfortable for the patient. During the procedure, the physician will monitor vital signs to ensure safety. Usually, the procedure will last thirty minutes or less and the patient will be sent home after a short recovery time.

Utah Celiac Plexus Blocks Treatment

As with any medical procedure, there are both risks and benefits with a celiac plexus block. Because this procedure is non-surgical, the recovery time is much shorter than standard surgical rehabilitation and patients can return to their normal lives much more quickly. 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 bleeding, infections, misplacement of the needle, puncture of surrounding organs or adjacent vessels, drug allergy and nerve damage/paralysis. The most common complaints related to the celiac plexus block are transient diarrhea and hypotension.

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