A celiac plexus block involves the injection of local anesthetic, alcohol or other neurolytic substance into the celiac plexus under x-ray control.
It is indicated for severe pain from disease in upper abdominal viscera and will provide immediate relief of pain for about 80-90% of patients, the relief lasting a number of months for most. Blocks performed with alcohol or phenol are longer lasting. Orthostatic hypotension and diarrhea are the only frequent adverse effects and usually settle within a few days. Other complications include damage to local tissues, vessels and other nerves, and there are rare reports of paraplegia.
Adapted from Woodruff R. Palliative medicine evidence-based symptomatic and supportive care for patients with advanced cancer. Fourth edition. Oxford University Press, 2004. (p. 163)