Neurolytic celiac plexus block for treatment of cancer pain: a meta-analysis

Anesth Analg. 1995 Feb;80(2):290-5. doi: 10.1097/00000539-199502000-00015.


We performed a meta-analysis of the efficacy and safety of neurolytic celiac plexus block (NCPB) for cancer pain. A literature search yielded 59 papers, but data on NCPB in two or more patients was available in only 24 papers. Twenty-one studies were retrospective, one was prospective, and two were randomized and controlled. Cancer type was stated in 1117 of 1145 patients reported (63% pancreatic, 37% nonpancreatic). A bilateral posterior approach with 15-50 mL [corrected] of 50%-100% alcohol was the most common technique. Nonradiologically guided NCPB was performed in 246 patients (32%); guidance was by computed tomography (CT) in 214 (28%), radiograph in 271 (34%), fluoroscopy in 36 (5%), or ultrasound in 7 (< 1%). Good to excellent pain relief was reported in 878/989 patients (89%) during the first 2 wk after NCPB. Long-term followup beyond 3 mo revealed persistent benefit. Partial to complete pain relief continued in approximately 90% of patients alive at 3 mo post-NCPB and in 70%-90% until death even if beyond 3 mo post-NCPB. Patients with pancreatic cancer responded similarly to those with other intraabdominal malignancies. Common adverse effects were transient, including local pain (96%), diarrhea (44%), and hypotension (38%); complications occurred in 2%. This analysis suggests that: 1) NCPB has long-lasting benefit for 70%-90% of patients with pancreatic and other intraabdominal cancers, regardless of the technique used; 2) adverse effects are common but transient and mild; and 3) severe adverse effects are uncommon.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Celiac Plexus*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / complications*
  • Nerve Block / adverse effects
  • Nerve Block / methods*
  • Pain Management*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / complications
  • Radiography, Interventional
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Ultrasonography, Interventional