Celiac/Splanchnic Plexus Block

The celiac plexus block and the splanchnic nerve block can be used for abdominal pain that may be caused by irritation, compression or entrapment of the nerve bundles within various abdominal organs. These can be caused by a tumor invasion, fibrosis, or chronic inflammation resulting from chronic pancreatitis or Crohn’s disease, among others.

Pain attributed to pancreatic cancer responds very well to a celiac plexus blockade. The celiac plexus and the splanchnic nerves are the names of the sympathetic nerves involved in the function of the abdominal organs. They are a dense cluster of nerve cells and supporting tissue, located behind your stomach, in the region of the celiac artery just below the diaphragm.

Nerve signals to the majority of abdominal organs flow through the celiac plexus and the splanchnic nerves. This includes the pancreas, liver, gallbladder, stomach, small intestine, and the parts of the colon. The celiac plexus and the splanchnic nerve block are performed to diagnose and reduce abdominal pain caused by conditions such as cancer or pancreatitis. By blocking these nerve collections, pain signals can be reduced from organs in the abdomen.

A local anesthetic, steroid or ethyl-alcohol can be administered onto the plexus of the nerves using live x-ray guidance to visualize anatomic landmarks and accurately deposit medications. The use of alcohol, called a neurolytic block, because it destroys the nerves, can provide sustained pain relief in conditions where medications alone are not effective. A trial block is initially done with local anesthetic as a test to ensure there is pain relief. If substantial pain relief is acquired, a neurolytic block is performed.