2000 Volume 192 Issue 1 Pages 1-18
The neurolytic celiac plexus block (NCPB) has been recommended for pain relief in patients with upper abdominal cancer by the WHO Cancer Pain Relief Program. In this article, we review the indications, techniques, and adverse effects of NCPB based on the previous findings in the literature and our own experience of 142 NCPBs during the past 11 years. No well-validated indication criteria for the NCPB have been available from invasive trials or non-invasive pain evaluations. Thus, the procedure has been employed using comprehensive pain assessment. Several modified approaches have been described for NCPB with differences in the target space where the alcohol is injected (precrural and retrocrural) and the insertion route of the needle (posterolateral and transdiscal). We have used the retrocrural transdiscal approach because of its simplicity and safety. The efficacy of the resultant pain relief does not differ among these techniques. Therefore, whether a distinction exists between blocks of the celiac plexus and those of the splanchnic nerves is controversial. The term “peri-aortic nerve block” may better describe the feature of this neurolytic intervention. The noteworthy adverse effects of alcoholic neurolysis include regional pain, hypotension, diarrhea, hypoxemia, and acute alcoholic intoxication. Most of them are transient and controllable. The diarrhea may counteract the morphine-induced constipation. NCPB relieves visceral pain in upper abdominal cancer with no serious adverse effects. We recommend this procedure to improve the quality of life of the patients suffering from abdominal cancer pain.