Hypogastric Plexus Block

What is a hypogastric plexus block?

Hypogastric plexus blocks are injections of medication that help relieve pelvic pain due to many causes including dysfunction of visceral organs, endometriosis, irritable bowel syndrome, radiation injury and cancer in the pelvis.

The hypogastric plexus is a bundle of nerves near the bottom of your spinal cord. Blocking these nerves from carrying pain information can help lessen pelvic pain.

How is a hypogastric plexus block done?

You may be given an intravenous medication to relax you. Then, you’ll lie on your stomach on an x-ray table. The doctor will numb an area of skin on your back with a local anesthetic. Then, guided by an x-ray, he or she will:

  • Insert two small needles into your back
  • Inject dye to confirm that medication will go to the correct spot
  • Inject pain medication, including a local anesthetic for immediate relief and a steroid for longer-term relief; alcohol or phenol also may be injected to destroy the nerves

Usually, the procedure takes about 30 minutes. Then you’ll stay for observation for at least 30 minutes. You will go home the same day.

How effective is a hypogastric plexus block?

Some patients report pain relief within 30 minutes after the injection, but pain may return a few hours later as the anesthetic wears off. Longer term relief usually begins in two to three days, but may take up to a week to work.

How long the pain stays away is different for each patient. For some, the relief lasts weeks. For others, the relief lasts years. If the pain returns, you can have another hypogastric plexus block every few months.

What are the risks?

The risk of complication from a hypogastric plexus block is very low. However, as with any injection, there could be bruising or soreness at the injection site, bleeding, infection, increase in pain, and nerve damage. Side effects of the steroid medication itself can include:

  • Elevated blood sugars
  • Flushed face
  • Headache
  • Suppression of body’s own cortisol
  • Suppression of immune response
  • Water retention

These effects resolve within a few days.

Who should not have a hypogastric block?

Patients who have an allergy to any anesthetic, are on blood thinning medications, are diabetic, have an active infection, or are pregnant should consult with the pain physician before receiving the procedure. There may be special instructions or lab testing or the procedure might need to be rescheduled.

What happens afterwards?

Your pelvic area may feel warm or “different,” and you may begin to feel less pelvic pain. You can continue your regular diet and medications immediately, but avoid any rigorous activity for 24 hours after the procedure. Take it easy. You can return to your normal activities the next day.

Is a hypogastric plexus block right for you?

A hypogastric plexus block may be right for you if you have chronic pelvic pain that does not respond to physical therapy and oral pain medication. Contact us for more information!

At PrairieShore™ Pain Center, our goal is to relieve your pain and improve your quality of life. If your primary physician has advised you to see a specialist for your pain, turn to us for help. To schedule your appointment, please contact us here or give us a call at (847) 883-0077.