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Celiac Plexus Block

Celiac Plexus Anatomy

The celiac plexus block is one of the more useful procedures for treating pain related to cancer of the pancreas. Cancer remains one of the most common sources of pain facing modern society. People from all walks of life deal with numerous forms of painful cancer. Pancreatic cancer is one of the most devastating forms of serious cancer. When dealing with this ailment, people can experience pain that leads to substantial and wide-ranging personal problems.

This form of cancer is typified by abdominal pain. Anyone who experiences long-term, debilitating abdominal pain should receive medical attention to rule out cancer. Although cancer can lead to pain in the abdomen, many physical conditions can cause similar forms of pain.

When treating midsection pain, doctors often focus on the celiac plexus. Commonly known as the solar plexus, this nerve network creates a wide range of physical changes in the body. Located behind the stomach, the celiac plexus is a critical and sensitive network surrounding the aorta, the main blood vessel in the human abdomen. The celiac plexus is a central network that includes a variety of nerve structures. These include the pancreatic, gastric and renal plexi. Under normal circumstances, the celiac plexus is devoted to controlling basic nerve functions. When certain conditions apply, this nerve network will send pain signals from the abdomen to the brain.

Sometimes, people with extreme stomach pain experience relief through a procedure called the celiac plexus block. In this delicate procedure, the celiac plexus is artificially blocked with a chemical injection.

Though not without risks and complications, the solar plexus block is a relatively simple and effective procedure. The injection itself can take anywhere from ten to thirty minutes to perform. In all cases, the injection solution includes a localized anesthetic. In some cases, chemicals like clonidine are added to lengthen the effects of the shot. In general, there is pain involved in receiving the celiac block. To minimize pain, your pain management doctor can use a very small needle to anesthetize the procedure site. Only after numbness sets in is the larger block needle inserted. To further reduce patient discomfort, the patient may be sedated intravenously. Though the amount of sedative used will vary on the patient and the conditions, generalized anesthesia is not required for the celiac block.
Celiac Plexus Block
During the celiac block procedure, X-ray is used to ensure proper needle placement along the patient’s spine. After the needle is placed, test dye is used to pinpoint where the injection fluid will spread. Once everything is in order, the main injection takes place over the course of several minutes. Following the block, patients may experience pain relief for hours or days. A series of injections is called for in many cases, with increasing relief after each injection. Though this procedure is generally very safe, very rare risks include injection site pain, bleeding, infection, and breathing problems.  After the celiac block, patients are not advised to drive themselves home. For at least 24 hours, it is a good idea to only perform light activities that are tolerable. In many cases, directly following this procedure with physical therapy can work wonders.