Celiac plexus blocks for abdominal cancer pain
What is abdominal cancer?
The abdomen is described as the area containing most of the organs for digestion such as the intestines, stomach, liver, and pancreas. It covers the length of the torso below the chest down to the pelvis. Abdominal cancer is a general term for abnormal cell growth developing in this area, and refers to a wide variety of cancer types like gastric or pancreatic cancer. Cancers grow due to a variety of reasons such as stress, and bacterial infections, causing complications such as digestive organ failure, intestinal obstructions, and other problems. It is usually asymptomatic in early stages, so it is often only detected after progressing more severely.
What is abdominal cancer pain?
Abdominal pain is one of the symptoms observed in patients with more advanced abdominal cancers. It may be induced as a side effect of chemotherapeutic agents, or caused by the inflammation of organs where the tumors grow. The pain comes sometimes as cramping, or dull ache that gradually builds in intensity; in other cases it manifests as a sharp pain that is rather severe and persistent. It is often also accompanied by several other digestive malfunctions such as diarrhea, constipation, excessive flatulence, and nausea.
What are the causes of abdominal cancer pain?
Chronic abdominal pain may be caused by a variety of reasons, so consulting a pain management doctor is highly advised in order to rule out other possible causes. In cases where abdominal cancer really is the source, careful observation of pain behavior may help you and your pain management doctor determine the specific cause of abdominal cancer pain, which can be one of the following:
- Chemotherapy-induced pain
- Change in motility
- Inflammation of cancer-infested organ
- Intestinal blockage
How is abdominal cancer pain treated?
Abdominal cancer pain sometimes becomes a constant companion of patients, especially in cases where it gets really severe. Depending on the specific cause, pain management doctors may recommend appropriate pain management measures to patients, such as:
- Change of chemotherapy medicine
- Dietary changes
- Use of pain killers
- Celiac plexus block
What is a celiac plexus block?
Celiac plexus block is a type of nerve block used by pain management doctors which specifically target a bundle of nerves innervating the abdominal area. The celiac plexus, a bundle of nerves located around the aorta, relays pain signals from the digestive organs to the brain. In chronic abdominal pain cases, direct desensitization of these nerves is usually the best course of action for pain relief, avoiding severe side effects of other strong pain management medicine. As in other nerve blocks, the celiac plexus block utilizes a mixture of anesthetic medicine and neurolytic agents such as steroids to kill the pain and damage the nerves so as to disable them from transmitting pain signals and provide pain relief. Pain management doctors may administer it every few months, as the effects wear out and the nerves ably repair themselves. Abdominal pain is a mere symptom of the actual cancer, so this pain management scheme may be used in conjunction with surgery, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy.
How is a celiac plexus block done?
The celiac plexus block is accomplished by imaging-guided injection techniques. The patient’s skin is first sterilized and anesthetized by the pain management doctor in preparation for deep injection. Needle placement is then visualized by the pain management doctor using X-ray real-time monitoring and contrast dyes. Upon confirmation of proper placement, the neurolytic or anesthetic formula is introduced into the celiac plexus. Patients are observed by the pain management professional before being sent home.
Where are celiac plexus blocks done?
Needing a celiac plexus block? Dr. Kevin Li, M.D., a pain management doctor based in Los Angeles could give you just what you need. With his years of extensive experience in image-guided anesthesiology and work in pain management, the best care for abdominal pain management can be yours! Contact his L.A. clinic at (626) 538 – 8950 for your appointment, and take a step towards a pain-free life!
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