Celiac plexus block is a treatment for the pain of pancreatic disease. Pain is the major symptom in patients with advanced pancreatic cancer and chronic pancreatitis. Often this pain is treated with pain medicines. Pancreatic pain is transmitted through a network of nerves called the celiac plexus. This network is located around the aorta (the large artery in the abdomen) and the celiac artery. This pain can be treated by placing numbing medicine (local anesthetics) with or without steroids directly on the celiac plexus. Permanent destruction of these nerves may be available for pain relief in patients with advanced stage pancreatic cancer. In the procedure, usually delivered by a physician with special training in pain treatment, patients lie face down on the procedure table. Sedation is given intravenously to help with relaxation. The back is cleaned then injected with numbing medicine. A needle is then placed through the back next to the celiac plexus with the use of x-ray guidance. The medicine to block the nerve is then injected. The procedure only takes a few minutes plus a short recovery period. Patients should be accompanied by a driver.
Treating pain effectively requires comprehensive and specialized care. The physicians and staff of the UAB Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine offer the latest in pain management techniques, backed by the expertise, knowledge, and research of one of the country’s largest academic medical centers. In both the hospital and the clinic, the needs of each patient are carefully considered, and we design each treatment plan to provide the best possible results.
We understand that relief from pain is critical to recovery. Our approach combines compassionate care with image-guided procedures, physical therapy, psychological assistance, medication, and ongoing consults with your primary care physicians. Our program puts less emphasis on opioid medications and tries to help patients improve their enjoyment of life by focusing on daily exercise, better nutrition, and stress reduction through cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness techniques.
Our innovative physicians and researchers continue to advance the field of pain management with studies that explore new therapies and treatment approaches, which may give patients access to treatments not yet available at most medical centers. We work closely with the departments of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, Orthopaedics, Neurology, Psychiatry, and Palliative Care to provide complete care for our patients.
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