A coeliac plexus block is a pain medicine procedure used for chronic abdominal pain. Patients who experience chronic abdominal pain related to cancer, chronic pancreatitis or persistent post operative pain may benefit from this procedure. It is only used once conservative treatment (education, rehabilitation and medication) has not been successful.
This procedure involves the injection of local anaesthetic and steroid or alcohol (for cancer related pain) into the nerve group that supplies sensation to the abdomen. The local anaesthetic and steroid is thought to act in a variety of ways to alter the pain signals and decrease inflammation. For patients requiring this procedure for cancer pain the alcohol destroys the nerve group so that sensation is reduced or absent.
There is excellent evidence from the medical literature that this procedure is very useful in relieving pain and discomfort in those suffering cancer related pain. Open trials have shown that patients with non cancer pain also benefit from this procedure.
This procedure is performed as a day patient. You will be prepared for theatre and placed in a theatre gown. Once you are on the operating table the anaethetist will place a canulae in your arm and sedative drugs will be administered.
The procedure is performed under sterile conditions. The area around your middle back is injected with local anaesthetic. A needle is then advanced under Xray guidance to the abdominal nerve bundle (coeliac plexus). Local anaesthetic and steroid or alcohol (for cancer related pain) is then injected.