Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Radiol Med. 1999 Sep;98(3):183-8.

[Neurolytic block of the celiac plexus and splanchnic nerves with computed tomography. The experience in 150 cases and an optimization of the technic].

[Article in Italian]

Author information

  • 1Dipartimento Oncologico, Ospedale San Giovanni Antica Sede, Torino.



CT-guided celiac plexus and splanchnic nerve neurolytic blocks are procedures for pain relief in patients with upper abdominal malignancies. In the last 20 years, the technique has been modified by the introduction of CT guidance providing improved precision and safety. We report our personal experience and provide suggestions for technique optimization.


In 1991-1998 we performed 150 celiac plexus and/or splanchnic nerve neurolytic blocks with ethyl alcohol in 144 cancer patients; the procedure was repeated in 6 patients. In 69% of cases the patient had a pancreatic lesion. We prefer an anterior approach with very thin needles (22 Gauge). The sites of alcohol injection (celiac plexus, splanchnic nerves or both) are chosen after evaluation of anatomy by preliminary CT scans, or during the procedure, depending on alcohol (mixed with a contrast agent) spread.


The mean duration of the procedure ranged 50 min (1991) to 22 min (1998). 48 hours after the block we obtained major pain relief in 79% of cases. After 15 days, 21% of patients had no pain (drugs: none), 29% had mild pain (therapy: non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs), 32% had marked pain (therapy: non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs and, occasionally, opioids), 18% had severe pain (only opioid therapy). Pain relief was more frequent in splanchnic nerve blocks.


Our experience confirms that neurolytic celiac plexus and/or splanchnic nerve block is a good choice in the treatment of upper abdominal cancer pain. We would also like to add that: 1) celiac plexus block with CT guidance (with the needle tip positioned anterior to aorta) and splanchnic nerve block (with the needle tip positioned posterior to diaphragmatic crura) are no longer two separated techniques, but they can be chosen and combined according to patients needs. 2) All procedures can be performed with anterior approach, in supine position, with a single thin needle, allowing to reach the target without any complication, even after puncturing stomach, liver, bowel, pancreas or aorta. 3) With CT guidance, even splanchnic nerve neurolysis is a low-risk technique, which should be adopted in all cases of insufficient alcohol spread in the celiac plexus. 4) When the operators are skilled and experienced enough, the time required for the block can be significantly decreased to nearly the time required for US-guided or fluoroscopic-guided procedures.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk