Hypogastric Plexus Block
A hypogastric plexus block (also known as a superior hypogastric plexus block or sympathetic block) is a minimally invasive procedure used to manage chronic pelvic pain. The hypogastric plexus is a complex network of nerves located in the lower abdomen (hypogastric region) that plays a significant role in transmitting pain signals from organs in the pelvic area to the brain.
Is Hypogastric Plexus Block right for me?
What Does a Hypogastric Plexus Block Treat?
The hypogastric plexus block is commonly used to manage chronic pain conditions involving pelvic organs, such as:
1. Chronic Pelvic Pain: Conditions like chronic pelvic inflammatory disease, endometriosis, or interstitial cystitis can cause persistent pelvic pain, and a hypogastric plexus block may offer relief.
2. Cancer-Related Pain: For patients with pelvic cancers, such as ovarian, uterine, or prostate cancer, this procedure may help alleviate pain caused by tumor growth or cancer-related treatments.
3. Pelvic Pain after Surgery: Some patients experience chronic pelvic pain after pelvic surgeries, and a hypogastric plexus block might be considered as part of their pain management plan.
How Does a Hypogastric Plexus Block Work?
A hypogastric plexus block works by interrupting the transmission of pain signals from the pelvic organs to the brain. The hypogastric plexus is a network of nerves located in the lower abdomen (hypogastric region), and it plays a significant role in carrying pain signals from the pelvic organs, such as the bladder, uterus, and prostate, to the central nervous system.
PREPARING FOR TREATMENT
What Can I Expect During a Hypogastric Plexus Block Procedure?
During the procedure, a pain management physician uses imaging guidance, such as fluoroscopy or ultrasound, to precisely locate the hypogastric plexus. The patient is positioned lying on their stomach or side, and the skin over the targeted area is numbed with a local anesthetic to minimize discomfort.
Once the hypogastric plexus is identified, a thin needle or catheter is inserted through the skin and guided close to the nerve cluster. A mixture of medications is then injected into the area surrounding the plexus. The most common combination includes a local anesthetic, such as lidocaine or bupivacaine, and a corticosteroid, which helps reduce inflammation and pain.
The local anesthetic temporarily blocks the nerve signals, inhibiting the transmission of pain impulses from the pelvic organs to the brain. The corticosteroid helps to reduce inflammation, which can also contribute to pain relief. By interrupting the pain signals and reducing inflammation, the hypogastric plexus block can provide significant relief for patients suffering from chronic pelvic pain.
WHAT CAN I EXPECT AFTER THE PROCEDURE?
Following the procedure, you will be monitored for a short period to ensure that you are stable and recovering well from the effects of the anesthesia and the injection. You may experience some pain or discomfort at the injection site, but this is usually mild and can be managed with over-the-counter pain medications and/or ice application.
Before you are discharged, your healthcare provider will provide you with post-procedure instructions, including any restrictions on physical activities, wound care (if applicable), and guidelines for pain management.
It’s important to note that the effects of a hypogastric plexus block are usually temporary and can vary from person to person. While some individuals may experience long-lasting pain relief, others may find that the relief is temporary and may require repeat procedures to maintain its benefits.