Current Issue - September/October - Vol 21 Issue 5


  1. 2018;21;497-504Low Volume Neurolytic Retrocrural Celiac Plexus Block for Visceral Cancer Pain: Retrospective Review of 507 Patients with Severe Malignancy Related Pain Due to Primary Abdominal Cancer or Metastatic Disease
    Retrospective Review
    Abed Rahman, MD, Raed Rahman, DO, George Macrinici, MD, and Sam Li, MD.

BACKGROUND: Abdominal pain from primary cancer or metastatic disease is a significant cause of pain for patients undergoing treatment for the disease. Patient’s pain may be resistant to conventional analgesics. The need for timely pain relief in order to facilitate further care in the cancer treatment plan should be a priority.

OBJECTIVES: The aim of this retrospective observational review was to assess the relief given with a low volume neurolytic retrocrural celiac plexus nerve block, the duration of the procedure, the duration of relief, the reduction in daily opioid consumption, and the improvement of quality of life in a patient suffering from incapacitating abdominal pain due to primary abdominal malignancy or abdominal metastatic disease. Patients were given a neurolytic celiac plexus block without previous diagnostic block due to multiple comorbidities.

STUDY DESIGN: This is a retrospective, observational study.

METHODS: Five hundred and seven patients were studied and data at 5 months for 455 patients were retained at the end of the review. They were evaluated in the pain center prior to and after the neurolytic retrocrural celiac plexus nerve block under fluoroscopic guidance. They were assessed on duration of procedure, pain scores (numeric rating scale 0-10), daily opioid consumption, quality of life improvement (simple yes or no question at 3 months) and routine follow-up during treatment for the cancer for 6 months or end of life. All data was gathered by extensive chart review and placed on a spreadsheet for analysis.

RESULTS: Follow-up was completed 6 months after the procedure. Pain scores, daily opioid consumption, and quality of life showed improvement for the duration of the study. There was some return in pain during the fourth to sixth month due to disease progression and the anticipated duration of the neurolytic agent. Some short duration known side effects did occur. An initial vascular contrast uptake of 6.7% was noted during the procedure while utilizing digital subtraction angiography with fluoroscopy.

LIMITATIONS: A larger sample size would be ideal, as well as, a prospective trial with a control group, but this is unrealistic in our patient population. A proven quality of life questionnaire would be beneficial. Comparing alcohol, phenol and radiofrequency thermocoagulation would be interesting to equate duration, effect, and side effects.

CONCLUSION: Low volume neurolytic retrocrural celiac plexus nerve block with phenol is a safe procedure providing up to 6 months of pain relief and is an effective, well-established, minimally time-consuming procedure for abdominal pain due to primary malignancy or metastatic spread.

KEY WORDS: Celiac plexus, neurolytic, abdominal cancer pain, pain, retrocrural, cancer pain