Why would a celiac plexus block be done for a patient with pancreatic cancer?
The celiac plexus innervates the lower esophagus, stomach, small intestines, most of the large intestines, liver, pancreas, spleen, adrenal glands, and kidneys. Therefore, by blocking the celiac plexus, you can interrupt the pain fibers from these abdominal organs. The celiac plexus is actually a series of ganglia just in front of the aorta and the 1st and 2nd lumbar vertebrae. A diagnostic block is done first with local anesthetic only. If the patient has a good response, we then consider proceeding with a neurolytic block (usually alcohol). This is most commonly done for patients with pancreatic cancer with upper abdominal pain, but can also be tried for cancer of the other above organs.