The celiac plexus block and splanchnic block are minimally invasive, outpatient procedures that help relieve chronic abdominal pain as a result of pancreatitis, Crohn’s disease, fibrosis, and more. These injection therapies treat the celiac plexus and splanchnic nerves directly, preventing pain signals from being sent to the brain. The celiac plexus and splanchnic nerves surround an artery behind the abdomen, and they send signals from the pancreas, gallbladder, small intestine, and other abdominal organs. Patients may benefit from a celiac plexus block or splanchnic block for their chronic abdominal pain.
Patients undergoing the celiac plexus block or splanchnic block procedure will not be unconscious during the procedure. Instead, an anesthesiologist may administer a local anesthetic before the procedure begins so the patient feels little-to-no pain. The patient may experience slight pressure during the procedure, but the anesthetic should prevent most of the patient's discomfort. Before administering the celiac plexus block or splanchnic block, the physician may position the patient on his or her stomach. Once the patient feels numb and the surgical site is sterilized, the physician will begin the procedure. The physician will insert the needle at an angle far from the spine toward the abdominal area, creating a triangle between the artery, spine, and side of the back. A fluoroscope, which is a special X-ray device, helps guide the needle toward the damaged nerves. A contrast dye may be injected into the damaged area to confirm the position of the needle. Once the location has been correctly identified, an anesthetic and steroid medication solution will be injected. A small bandage is placed over the injection site and the patient is taken to a separate room to recover. Overall, the procedure takes less than an hour to complete.
A caretaker should drive the patient home following the injection. Because a celiac plexus block and splanchnic block are outpatient procedures, patients may be able to return home the same day. Patients may experience soreness as the anesthesia wears off, but the full effect of the nerve block may begin providing pain relief 3-4 days after the injection. The length of pain relief varies, and some patients may require a series of injections to experience complete pain relief. This is not unusual, as a celiac plexus block and splanchnic block are only temporary treatment options for abdominal pain. Patients may return to work after spending some time resting at home. For any questions or concerns after the procedure, please call our staff.