What is a celiac plexus nerve block?

A celiac plexus block relieves severe abdominal pain caused by pancreatic cancer. It’s a type of nerve destruction that stops the celiac plexus nerves in the abdomen from sending pain signals to the brain. Some varieties of celiac plexus block provide temporary pain relief, while others offer long-term relief.

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how does it work?

The procedure typically takes place while you lie prone on your stomach with a bolster (pillow) underneath your hips. If it hurts too much to be on your stomach, you may be on your back (supine position). You will receive an intravenous medication (a sedative) to relax you.

Your provider:

  • Sterilizes the treatment area with an antiseptic and numbs it with a local anesthetic.
  • Inserts a needle into the back and confirms correct needle placement by injecting a small amount of contrast dye, which shows up on the imaging scan. You may have some discomfort and feel a slight pinch.
  • Withdraws the needle and uses a different needle to inject a pain medicine (anesthetic) or steroid into the treatment area to numb the nerves.
  • Uses a different needle to inject alcohol into the celiac plexus (for a neurolytic procedure). The injection damages the nerves, preventing pain signals from traveling to the brain.

What happens after a celiac plexus block?

Most people get pain relief within 15 to 30 minutes after getting a nerve block. You’ll need to stay at the office for 1 to 2 hours to make sure you don’t have any complications.

Potential side effects may include:

  • Bruising, swelling or soreness.
  • Infection at the treatment site.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Low blood pressure.
  • Muscle spasms.

Please visit our providers page to learn more.