Coeliac Plexus Block

What is a Coeliac Plexus Block?

  • The coeliac plexus is a bundle of sympathetic nerves within the abdomen. It is sometimes referred to as the "solar plexus".
  • The sympathetic nervous system is involved in many types of pain, including chronic abdominal pain. 
  • A coeliac plexus block is performed to treat or diagnose pain arising from the upper abdomen, including the pancreas and liver.
  • The procedure is performed in the day surgery using an X-ray machine.


Prior to the Procedure

  • All blood thinning products (except aspirin) must be stopped prior to your procedure. You will be advised by letter when to stop taking these medications at the time that your admission date is arranged.
  • You are able to take your other regular medications with a sip of water on the morning of your procedure.
  • If you are an insulin dependent diabetic you will always be at the beginning of the list. Please bring your insulin with you and it will be given to you following your procedure.
  • Hamilton Day Surgery Centre staff will advise you of your fasting and admission times.
  • You must not have anything to eat, drink, smoke or chew prior to your procedure.
  • You will need to organise someone to drive you home after the procedure as you will not be able to drive for 24 hours after your procedure.


What Will Happen?

  1. You will be admitted to the day surgery by a nurse and you will be asked to change into a gown.
  2. The anaesthetist will speak with you and place a cannula (plastic needle) into a vein in your hand.
  3. In the procedure room, you will be assisted to position on the procedure table on your abdomen with a pillow under your pelvis for support.
  4. The anaesthetist will administer sedation drugs into your vein.
  5. An X-ray machine will be used to determine where the doctor will place the needle for your procedure. This will be marked with a pen.
  6. Local anaesthetic will be injected to numb the discomfort of the needle.
    • The procedure will take approximately 10 minutes to complete.
  7. Local anaesthetic or local anaesthetic and steroid or phenol will be injected.
    • Phenol can produce pain relief that may last many months.
  8. After the procedure, you will be placed on a trolley and taken to recovery, where you will remain for approximately 1 hour.
  9. After having something to eat and drink you will be discharged with a carer.


Post Procedure

  • You will not be able to drive for 24 hours after your procedure.
  • We generally suggest you take it easy for 48 hours prior to returning to your pre-procedure activities.
  • A nurse from HPC will telephone you 24 - 48 hours following your procedure to discuss the outcome of the procedure and organise a follow-up appointment. 
  • Potential rare complications include infection, inadvertent nerve damage, inadvertent spread of the medication into the blood vessels, inadvertent injection into the epidural space or spinal fluid, hypotension (low blood pressure), pneumothorax, pain at the injection site and failure to obtain pain relief. Transient diarrhoea may occur following a coeliac plexus block, possibly for a couple of weeks following the procedure. The risk of these complications are minimised as the procedure is performed in a day surgery using an x-ray machine.

If you require further explanation of the procedure, please contact Hunter Pain Clinic nursing staff on (02) 4985 1800.


* Image courtesy of patrisyu at